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Cost-effectiveness of exome sequencing: an Italian pilot study on undiagnosed patients

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Recent advances in genomic sequencing and their implementation in clinical practice are widely recognized as diagnostic milestones, and are influencing considerably medical decision making in term of patients’ management. The cost-effectiveness of genomic analysis as first-tier tests has been documented. However, only a few studies have assessed systematically the economic impact of a revised diagnostic trajectory based on exome sequencing in the health system for undiagnosed patients. We report on the assessment of diagnostic costs referred to a large cohort of patients enrolled in the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital’s “Undiagnosed Patients Program”, supporting the cost-effectiveness of exome sequencing in a universalistic health care service compared to the traditional multi-step diagnostic workup. Our data provide evidence that revision of health policy to promote genomic sequencing of patients with suspected Mendelian disorders would allow reallocation of resources for rare diseases from diagnostics to patient care. At a social level, diagnosis is crucial to receive the social “sick role” and establish an effective doctor-patient relationship. The application of genomic sequencing as first-tier diagnostic test does improve this process speeding up the diagnosis and management of undiagnosed patients.
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Keywords: cost-effectiveness; diagnosis; doctor-patient relationship; exome sequencing; health policy; rare diseases; undiagnosed patients

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Genetics and Rare diseases Research Division, Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, Rome, Italy 2: Political Science Department, University “Niccolò Cusano”, Rome, Italy

Publication date: July 3, 2019

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