Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Platelet-rich plasma: a case study for the identification of disinvestment opportunities using horizon scanning

Linda Mundy
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

HealthPACT, Health Improvement Unit, Clinical Excellence Division, Department of Health, Queensland, Level 2, 15 Butterfield Street, Herston, Qld 4006, Australia. Email: linda.mundy@health.qld.gov.au

Australian Health Review 41(1) 33-37 https://doi.org/10.1071/AH15075
Submitted: 17 April 2015  Accepted: 9 February 2016   Published: 24 March 2016

Abstract

Objective This paper discusses the potential for horizon scanning to identify low-value, inappropriate clinical practices that deliver minimal benefit to patients and represent a considerable financial burden on the health system.

Methods Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) was identified by routine horizon scanning as a potentially innovative treatment alternative for osteoarthritis of the knee. A rapid, non-systematic assessment of the evidence pertaining to the safety and effectiveness of PRP compared with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee was conducted.

Results The evidence base supporting the use of PRP for the treatment of osteoarthritis was poor. No comparative studies were identified that compared the use of PRP to NSAIDs, the current treatment option for osteoarthritis of the knee in Australia. Despite the lack of effectiveness evidence, the use of PRP injections was rapidly increasing in the private sector using an inappropriate Medicare Benefits Schedule item number.

Conclusions This assessment highlights the potential of using established horizon scanning methodologies to identify targets for full or partial disinvestment of ineffective, inefficient or harmful clinical practices.

What is known about the topic? PRP is rapidly diffusing in the private health system in Australia, however the use of a Medicare Benefits Schedule item number meant that this practice was being subsidised by the public reimbursement of treatment fees.

What does this paper add? Traditional horizon scanning tends to identify technologies for health systems to invest in. The evidence on the effectiveness of PRP was examined with the purpose of exploring investment in an innovative treatment that may have reduced the number of invasive procedures being performed in the public hospital system. The current evidence base does not support the use of PRP injections for the treatment of osteoarthritis. It does, however, support the use of horizon scanning as an inexpensive methodology to identify possible disinvestment targets associated with potential patient harm and high health service expenditure.

What are the implications for practitioners? Practitioners should be aware that public funding for the injection of PRP should not be used for the treatment of osteoarthritis.


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