Since health care budgets are limited and must be allocated efficiently, there is an economic pressure to reduce the costs of health care interventions. This study aims to investigate the cost of testing within a Clinical Chemistry laboratory.
This study was conducted in the Clinical Chemistry laboratory of the University Hospital UZ Brussel, Belgium, in which 156 tests were included and an average cost per test was calculated for the year 2018. Activity-based costing (ABC) was applied, using a top-down perspective. Costs were first allocated to different activity centers and subsequently to different tests. Number of tests, parameters, analyzers and time estimates were used as activity cost drivers.
The blood glucose test on the point-of-care testing (POCT) analyzer Accu Chek Inform II had the lowest unit cost (€0.92). The determination of methanol, ethanol and isopropanol on the GC-FID (7820A) is the test with the highest unit cost (€129.42). In terms of average cost per test per activity center, core laboratory (€3.37) scored lowest, followed consecutively by POCT (€3.49), diabetes (€22.09), toxicology (€31.52), metabolic disorder (€41.53) and cystic fibrosis (€86.02). The cost per test was mainly determined by staff (57%), costs of support services (23%) and reagents (14%).
High-volume and automated tests have lower unit costs, as is the case with the core laboratory. ABC provides the ability to identify high average cost tests that can benefit from optimizations, such as focusing on automation or outsourcing low-volume tests that can benefit from economies of scale.

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