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A cost-benefit analysis of 'NeuroPage': A memory aid for individuals suffering severe memory impairment
Smith, R.D., Mugford, M., Lara, A.M., WILSON, B.A. & EMSLIE, H.
HPP Discussion Paper No 2. Norwich. The School of Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia
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Memory disorders cause problems to the individual concerned, place a significant informal care burden upon families and friends, and have resource implications for the NHS and the wider public sector. Strategies to help mitigate these problems include mnemonics, environmental adaptations and external aids. It is often difficult, however, for memory impaired people to use such aids. To address these difficulties, a radio-paging system called NeuroPageÆ has been developed. Recently a clinical trial of effectiveness of NeuroPageÆ was conducted. This paper describes the economic evaluation component of that study, considering the costs of the NeuroPageÆ and tentative estimates of its efficiency, as judged by a cost-benefit analysis from the viewpoint of the NHS and Social Services. The cost of the NeuroPageÆ itself was £50 per patient. There was no significant difference in other NHS and Social Service costs between NeuroPageÆ and no-NeuroPageÆ phases of the trial. The willingness to pay varied between £74 for the mean WTP and £45 for the median. Thus, based on the median WTP figure the NeuroPageÆ results in a loss to society of £5 per month, and if based on the mean results in a net gain of £24. Although the result is equivocal, it is important to bear in mind that the NeuroPageÆ is a new, innovative, instrument to assist those experiencing memory impairment in leading an independent life. To our knowledge, this study represents the first economic evaluation of such a technology. Due to this, there are several caveats to face in interpreting the results and several lessons learnt for future analysis of such new technologies.