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Cost and reimbursement of providing routine vaccines in outpatient obstetrician/gynecologist settings

Published:March 13, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2020.02.051

      Objective

      To determine the costs and reimbursement associated with running a vaccine program in 5 obstetrics/gynecology practices in Colorado that had participated in a 3-year randomized, controlled trial focused on increasing vaccination in this setting.

      Materials and Methods

      This was a secondary analysis on costs from 5 clinics participating in a cluster-randomized controlled trial that assessed the effectiveness of a multimodal intervention to improve vaccination rates in outpatient obstetrics/gynecology clinics in central Colorado. The intervention included designation of an immunization champion within the practice, purchasing recommended vaccines for the practice, guidance on storage and management, implementing practices for routine identification of eligible patients for vaccination using the medical record, implementation of standing orders for vaccination, and vaccine administration to patients. Data on costs were gathered from office invoices, claims data, surveys and in-person observations during the course of the trial. These data incorporated supply and personnel costs for administering vaccines to individual patients that were derived from a combination of time–motion studies of staff and provider clinical activity, and practice reports, as well as costs related to maintaining the vaccination program at the practice level, which were derived from practice reports and invoices. Cost data for personnel time during visits in which vaccination was assessed and/or discussed, but no vaccine was given to the patient were also included in the main analysis. Data on practice revenue were derived from practice reimbursement records. All costs were described in 2014 dollars. The primary analysis was the proportion of costs for the program that were reimbursed, aggregated over all years of the study and combining all vaccines and practices, separated by obstetrics vs gynecology patients.

      Results

      Collectively the 5 clinics served >40,000 patient during the study period and served a population that was 16% Medicaid. Over the 3-year observation period, there were 6573 vaccination claims made collectively by the practices (4657 for obstetric patients, 1916 for gynecology patients). The most expensive component of the program was the material costs of the vaccines themselves, which ranged from a low of $9.67 for influenza vaccines, to a high of $141.40 for human papillomavirus vaccine. Staff costs for assessing and delivering vaccines during patient visits were minimal ($0.09–$1.24 per patient visit depending on the practice and whether an obstetrics or gynecology visit was being assessed) compared with staff costs for maintaining the program at a practice level (ie, assessing inventory, ordering and stocking vaccines; $0.89–$105.89 per vaccine dose given). When assessing all costs compared with all reimbursement, we found that vaccines for obstetrics patients were reimbursed at 159% of the costs over the study period, and for gynecology patients at 97% of the costs. Overall, the vaccination program was financially favorable across the practices, averaging 125% reimbursement of costs across the three study years.

      Conclusion

      Providing routine vaccines to patients in the ambulatory obstetrics/gynecology setting is generally not financially prohibitive for practices, and may even be financially beneficial, though there is variability between practices that can affect the overall reimbursement margin.

      Key words

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