Breath tests sustainability in hospital settings: cost analysis and reimbursement in the Italian National Health System

M. Volpe, F. Scaldaferri, V. Ojetti, A. Poscia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The high demand of Breath Tests (BT) in many gastroenterological conditions in time of limited resources for health care systems, generates increased interest in cost analysis from the point of view of the delivery of services to better understand how use the money to generate value. This study aims to measure the cost of C13 Urea and other most utilized breath tests in order to describe key aspects of costs and reimbursements looking at the economic sustainability for the hospital. A hospital based cost-analysis of the main breath tests commonly delivery in an ambulatory setting is performed. Mean salary for professional nurses and gastroenterologists, drugs/preparation used and disposable materials, purchase and depreciation of the instrument and the testing time was used to estimate the cost, while reimbursements are based on the 2013 Italian National Health System ambulatory pricelist. Variables that could influence the model are considered in the sensitivity analyses. The mean cost for C13--Urea, Lactulose and Lactose BT are, respectively, Euros 30,59; 45,20 and 30,29. National reimbursement often doesn't cover the cost of the analysis, especially considering the scenario with lower number of exam. On the contrary, in high performance scenario all the reimbursement could cover the cost, except for the C13 Urea BT that is high influenced by the drugs cost. However, consideration about the difference between Italian Regional Health System ambulatory pricelist are done. Our analysis shows that while national reimbursement rates cover the costs of H2 breath testing, they do not cover sufficiently C13 BT, particularly urea breath test. The real economic strength of these non invasive tests should be considered in the overall organization of inpatient and outpatient clinic, accounting for complete diagnostic pathway for each gastrointestinal disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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