Time-driven activity-based cost comparison of prostate cancer brachytherapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy

To evaluate the delivery cost of frequently used radiotherapy options offered to patients with intermediate- to high-risk prostate cancer using time-driven activity-based costing and compare the results with Medicare reimbursement and relative value units (RVUs).

Process maps were created to represent each step of prostate radiotherapy treatment at our institution. Salary data, equipment purchase costs, and consumable costs were factored into the cost analysis. The capacity cost rate was determined for each resource and calculated for each treatment option from initial consultation to its completion. Treatment options included low-dose-rate brachytherapy (LDR-BT), combined high-dose-rate brachytherapy single fraction boost with 25-fraction intensity-modulated radiotherapy (HDR-BT-IMRT), moderately hypofractionated 28-fraction IMRT, conventionally fractionated 39-fraction IMRT, and conventionally fractionated (2 Gy/fraction) 23-fraction pelvis irradiation with 16-fraction prostate boost.

The total cost to deliver LDR-BT, HDR-BT-IMRT, moderately hypofractionated 28-fraction IMRT, conventionally fractionated 39-fraction IMRT, conventionally fractionated 39-fraction IMRT, and conventionally fractionated (2 Gy/fraction) 23-fraction pelvis irradiation with 16-fraction prostate boost was $2719, $6517, $4173, $5507, and $5663, respectively. Total reimbursement for each course was $3123, $10,156, $7862, $9725, and $10,377, respectively. Radiation oncology attending time was 1.5-2 times higher for treatment courses incorporating BT. Attending radiation oncologist's time consumed per RVU was higher with BT (4.83 and 2.56 minutes per RVU generated for LDR-BT and HDR-BT-IMRT, respectively) compared to without BT (1.41-1.62 minutes per RVU).

Time-driven activity-based costing analysis identified higher delivery costs associated with prostate BT compared with IMRT alone. In light of recent guidelines promoting BT for intermediate- to high-risk disease, re-evaluation of payment policies is warranted to encourage BT delivery.

Brachytherapy. 2018 Mar 05 [Epub ahead of print]

Sunil W Dutta, Kristine Bauer-Nilsen, Jason C Sanders, Daniel M Trifiletti, Bruce Libby, Donna H Lash, Melody Lain, Deborah Christodoulou, Constance Hodge, Timothy N Showalter

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville., Department of Radiation Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL., Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville. Electronic address: .

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