Department of Health Economics and Health Policy, Institute of Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625, Hannover, Germany. [Email]
BACKGROUND : Identification of cost-driving factors in patients undergoing liver transplantation is essential to target reallocation of resources and potential savings. OBJECTIVE : The aim of this study is to identify main cost-driving factors in liver transplantation from the perspective of the Statutory Health Insurance. METHODS : Variables were analyzed with multivariable logistic regression to determine their influence on high cost cases (fourth quartile) in the outpatient, inpatient and rehabilitative healthcare sectors as well as for medications. RESULTS : Significant cost-driving factors for the inpatient sector of care were a high labMELD-score (OR 1.042), subsequent re-transplantations (OR 7.159) and patient mortality (OR 3.555). Expenditures for rehabilitative care were significantly higher in patients with a lower adjusted Charlson comorbidity index (OR 0.601). The indication of viral cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma resulted in significantly higher costs for medications (OR 21.618 and 7.429). For all sectors of care and medications each waiting day had a significant impact on high treatment costs (OR 1.001). Overall, cost-driving factors resulted in higher median treatment costs of 211,435 €. CONCLUSIONS : Treatment costs in liver transplantation were significantly influenced by identified factors. Long pre-transplant waiting times that increase overall treatment costs need to be alleviated by a substantial increase in donor organs to enable transplantation with lower labMELD-scores. Disease management programs, the implementation of a case management for vulnerable patients, medication plans and patient tracking in a transplant registry may enable cost savings, e.g., by the avoidance of otherwise necessary re-transplants or incorrect medication.