A cost-benefit analysis of endoscopy reporting methods: Handwritten, dictated and computerized
Background and study aims: Gastrointestinal endoscopy investigations are frequently requested by gastroenterologists, general practitioners and other physicians. In addition to the classic methods of report writing, several electronic endoscopic report systems are currently available. The aim of the study was to evaluate the costs of three different ways of producing reports; by hand, by dictation, or by computer. Methods: Three methods of report writing were compared, with special attention to costs. The endoscopy process was analyzed, from arrival of the patient to sending the report to the referring doctor, and including production of endoscopic images or video, logging of used endoscopes and their disinfection, and storage costs for endoscopy data. Results: During the first 5 years, the mean costs per procedure were C= 4.78 for handwritten, C= 6.39 for dictated and C= 8.90 for computerized reports. Due to depreciation, after this initial period, the respective costs declined to C= 4.37, C= 5.20 and C= 5.13, respectively. Despite high initial costs, a cost-benefit analysis already revealed a financial benefit from a computerized system after 3 years. Conclusions: The electronic production of an endoscopic report turned out to be the most expensive way of report writing during the first 5 years, due to high initial costs. After 5 years the costs of the different systems were comparable with each other. Cost-benefit analysis showed a positive financial benefit for computerized reports after 3 years.