Early health technology assessment of future clinical decision rule aided triage of patients presenting with acute chest pain in primary care

Robert T.A. Willemsen (Corresponding Author), Michelle M.A. Kip, Hendrik Koffijberg, Ron Kusters, Frank Buntinx, Jan F.C. Glatz, Geert Jan Dinant

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The objective of the paper is to estimate the number of patients presenting with chest pain suspected of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in primary care and to calculate possible cost effects of a future clinical decision rule (CDR) incorporating a point-of-care test (PoCT) as compared with current practice. The annual incidence of chest pain, referrals and ACS in primary care was estimated based on a literature review and on a Dutch and Belgian registration study. A health economic model was developed to calculate the potential impact of a future CDR on costs and effects (ie, correct referral decisions), in several scenarios with varying correct referral decisions. One-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to test robustness of the model outcome to changes in input parameters. Annually, over one million patient contacts in primary care in the Netherlands concern chest pain. Currently, referral of eventual ACS negative patients (false positives, FPs) is estimated to cost €1,448 per FP patient, with total annual cost exceeding 165 million Euros in the Netherlands. Based on ‘international data’, at least a 29% reduction in FPs is required for the addition of a PoCT as part of a CDR to become cost-saving, and an additional €16 per chest pain patient (ie, 16.4 million Euros annually in the Netherlands) is saved for every further 10% relative decrease in FPs. Sensitivity analyses revealed that the model outcome was robust to changes in model inputs, with costs outcomes mainly driven by costs of FPs and costs of PoCT. If PoCT-aided triage of patients with chest pain in primary care could improve exclusion of ACS, this CDR could lead to a considerable reduction in annual healthcare costs as compared with current practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalPrimary health care research & development
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018



  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Clinical decision rule
  • Cost effects
  • Emergency medicine
  • Primary care
  • Biomarkers

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