BACKGROUND: Blended physiotherapy, in which physiotherapy sessions and an online application are integrated, might support patients in taking an active role in the management of their chronic condition and may reduce disease related costs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a blended physiotherapy intervention (e-Exercise) compared to usual physiotherapy in patients with osteoarthritis of hip and/or knee, from the societal as well as the healthcare perspective.
METHODS: This economic evaluation was conducted alongside a 12-month cluster randomized controlled trial, in which 108 patients received e-Exercise, consisting of physiotherapy sessions and a web-application, and 99 patients received usual physiotherapy. Clinical outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) according to the EuroQol (EQ-5D-3 L), physical functioning (HOOS/KOOS) and physical activity (Actigraph Accelerometer). Costs were measured using self-reported questionnaires. Missing data were multiply imputed and bootstrapping was used to estimate statistical uncertainty.
RESULTS: Intervention costs and medication costs were significantly lower in e-Exercise compared to usual physiotherapy. Total societal costs and total healthcare costs did not significantly differ between groups. No significant differences in effectiveness were found between groups. For physical functioning and physical activity, the maximum probability of e-Exercise being cost-effective compared to usual physiotherapy was moderate (< 0.82) from both perspectives. For QALYs, the probability of e-Exercise being cost-effective compared to usual physiotherapy was 0.68/0.84 at a willingness to pay of 10,000 Euro and 0.70/0.80 at a willingness to pay of 80,000 Euro per gained QALY, from respectively the societal and the healthcare perspective.
CONCLUSIONS: E-Exercise itself was significantly cheaper compared to usual physiotherapy in patients with hip and/or knee osteoarthritis, but not cost-effective from the societal- as well as healthcare perspective. The decision between both interventions can be based on the preferences of the patient and the physiotherapist.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: NTR4224 (25 October 2013).