By Amanda M. Kong, Derek Jenkins, Kathleen A. Troeger, Gilwan Kim and Robert S. London
Vaginitis is one of the most common reasons women access health care in the United States. Despite its prevalence and disruptive impact, it is frequently misdiagnosed and untreated, resulting in unnecessary patient discomfort, follow-up visits, and health care costs. This study presents a costs analysis of diagnostic testing technologies to demonstrate the potential of molecular tests to improve the value of care for women with vaginitis. This study tracks health care spending among women diagnosed with vaginitis and finds that nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are cost-effective for the diagnosis of vaginal symptoms. Women who receive a NAAT on the day of their diagnosis have significantly lower 12-month follow-up costs compared to women who receive a direct probe test or those women who are clinically evaluated without the use of a molecular test. However, despite Food and Drug Administration approval, widely available molecular diagnostics have not been incorporated into clinical guidelines, and many payer policies fail to cover these tests. Greater utilization of NAAT for the diagnosis of vaginitis has the potential to improve the care of women seeking treatment for this prevalent condition and facilitate sexually transmitted infection testing without additional visits.
Access the full journal article in Population Health Management.