UCLA researchers found a 400 percent discrepancy between the least and most expensive ways to treat a common condition called benign prostate hyperplasia. Their study was the first to describe cost across the entire care process for the condition.
Dr. Alan Kaplan, the study’s first author and a resident physician in the UCLA department of urology, said the finding is important because there isn’t any proven difference in outcomes between the lower- and higher-cost treatments.
The study appears in the March issue of Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation.
During the year-long study, conducted at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, the researchers used a technique called time-driven activity-based costing to determine how much it costs to treat BPH, also known as enlarged prostate, a disorder that affects about half of men over 50. BPH can be treated in many different ways.
“We felt that if we could tackle the cost of such a complex and common condition we could use the technique to really understand cost on a larger scale,” Kaplan said. “Most importantly, we found that within our own institution the cost of treating BPH varied about 400 percent and, as of yet, we have no proof that one way is any better than the other.”
The UCLA researchers will continue to collect and analyze data to determine the value of BPH treatments, including which tests are useful and which may be unnecessary.