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Extracorporeal circulatory membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a technology that allows recovery of adults in cardiorespiratory failure with encouraging results, but is not available in the Brazilian universal public health system (SUS) due to high implementation costs. Time-driven activity based costing (TDABC) is applied to measure processes in an economic perspective by identifying opportunities to make processes more efficient through the reduction of resources used in each activity. The literature has explored the use of TDABC to measure costs related with clinical procedures and technologies in microcosting studies, identifying opportunities to improve the process by making it more efficient. This research measures the real costs to implement ECMO in Brazil to compare with the current public reimbursement system.
This study applied TDABC using data from 6 patients to measure costs of ECMO intervention considering the public perspective in Brazil. In sequence, standard price payed by SUS was used to estimate the current reimbursement amount received by the hospital for ECMO procedure. Cost variable analysis was conducted to understand when and how patients receiving ECMO are using hospital resources. Cost data were collected from an academic public hospital using an average of 18 months (2016–2017) for the department costs.
The real average cost was USD 128,923. Most significant resource costs was medical staff, particularly for the three survivor patients, and the ECMO equipment presented the second highest cost. ECMO activities were separated into: before implantation of ECMO, period using ECMO, intensive care post-ECMO and rehabilitation, being the period where ECMO is the most expensive, particularly in nurse and physician costs. The SUS average was USD 31,437, which shows a difference of USD 97,485 between the real ECMO cost and the public reimbursement in Brazil.
A critical element of the propagation of ECMO in Brazil and its reimbursement by public health system is the high cost and out-of-date standard payments by the Ministry of Health. Effort to implement a trustworthy method to guide decisions of SUS for the adoption and financing new technologies is essential to contribute to the optimization of public health policies in a country with a universal health system and limited resources dedicated to health sectors.
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