Original Research

Impact of novel software on laboratory expenditure at an academic hospital in South Africa

Zoliswa Mayekiso, Kelechi E. Oladimeji, Guillermo A. Pulido Estrada, Charles Hongoro, Teke R. Apalata
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a2159 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v12i1.2159 | © 2023 Zoliswa Mayekiso, Kelechi E. Oladimeji, Guillermo A. Pulido Estrada, Charles Hongoro, Teke R. Apalata | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2023 | Published: 30 November 2023

About the author(s)

Zoliswa Mayekiso, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa; and, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Kelechi E. Oladimeji, Ezintsha, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Guillermo A. Pulido Estrada, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Charles Hongoro, Developmental, Capable and Ethical State Division, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Pretoria, South Africa; and, School of Health Systems and Public Health, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Teke R. Apalata, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Countries across the globe report an increase in expenditure associated with medical laboratory testing. In 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services reported that laboratory test expenditures increased by $459 million US dollars (USD) from $7.1 billion USD in 2018. In South Africa, laboratory testing expenditure in the public sector increased from $415 million USD in 2014 to $723 million USD in 2021.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of an innovative software, electronic gatekeeping (EGK), on medical laboratory test expenditures at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, an interrupted time series analysis technique was used to evaluate trends in expenditure during a 48-month study period. To measure the impact of EGK on laboratory expenditure, we analysed laboratory expenditure over two study periods: a period of 24 months occurring before EGK implementation (01 June 2013 to 31 May 2015) and a period of 24 months occurring during EGK implementation (01 June 2015 to 30 May 2017).

Results: There was a significant reduction (211 928 fewer tests) in the number of tests performed during the intervention (434 790) compared to before the intervention (646 718). Laboratory test expenditure was $1 663 756.72 USD before the intervention period and $1 105 036.88 USD during the intervention period, demonstrating a cost savings of $558 719.84 USD.

Conclusion: Electronic gatekeeping is a cost-effective intervention for managing medical laboratory expenditures. We recommend that the health sector scale up this intervention nationally.

What this study adds: Using an interrupted time series interval, the authors determined that EGK is a cost-effective intervention for managing medical laboratory expenditures at a tertiary hospital. This study’s findings can promote and contribute to improved laboratory systems and test investigations.


Keywords

Electronic gatekeeping; medical laboratory expenditure; interrupted time series analysis; cost-effectiveness; intervention; rural; academic hospital; South Africa

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

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