Driving diagnosis: Myeloma UK partners with Costello Medical to highlight the cost of delayed myeloma diagnosis

Healthcare Advocacy Services // 24th March 2021

Myeloma UK has worked with Costello Medical to develop the first economic model which can estimate the healthcare costs associated with delayed diagnosis of myeloma in the UK.  

The model, developed as part of the Myeloma UK Early Diagnosis Programme, will help Myeloma UK and other organisations argue for changes that improve myeloma diagnosis from both a cost and patient perspective.   

A third of myeloma patients present through an emergency route and delayed myeloma diagnosis is associated with an increase in severe complications, such as spinal cord compression and kidney failure. This results in both reduced quality of life and lower life expectancy for patients. This is why improving myeloma diagnosis is a key goal of Myeloma UK.   

Findings from the economic model highlight potential cost saving of over £30,000 per patient associated with early diagnosis due to the reduction in costs associated with the management of complications and end of life care. This shows there is an economic benefit to earlier diagnosis and supports further investment in this area. 

The model, which is available to use free of charge, was designed to let researchers and policymakers across the UK calculate the costs associated with myeloma through several different scenarios. Therefore, it also has the potential to justify improvements in patient care across the myeloma treatment pathway as well as diagnosis.   

Reflecting on the partnership and model development, Dr Suzanne Renwick, Myeloma UK said:  

“We were delighted to work alongside Costello to develop this model. Timely diagnosis has a huge impact on the lives of patients and their families. It means patients are less likely to present with life-limiting complications and therefore more likely to live well for longer. 

The model is a huge step forward in enabling us to quantify the economic benefits of early diagnosis, as well as the clinical benefits. This work has significantly benefited the Myeloma UK Early Diagnosis Programme which looks to identify the ‘bottlenecks’ in the referral and diagnosis pathways so mainstream practical solutions can be developed to improve clinical practice in this area.  

It will help us lobby for more investment into projects that aim to ensure timely diagnosis of this blood cancer for all patients. It is open access and we invite all those with available data to make use of the model to investigate some of the questions it may help answer. We anticipate that the model will be of benefit to clinicians, researchers, commissioners, policy stakeholders, and others working in the field of myeloma presentation and diagnosis.”

Alex Porteous, Senior Analyst – HTA and Health Economics, Costello Medical, said:

“It has been a privilege to work in partnership with Myeloma UK to develop this health economic model to estimate the costs associated with delays to diagnosis for patients with myeloma in the UK. With one-third of patients currently diagnosed following an emergency presentation, we hope that this research can highlight the impact of delays in diagnosis not only for patients themselves but also for the healthcare system as a whole. In partnering with Myeloma UK, we have enjoyed the opportunity to give back on a pro bono basis and continue to develop Costello Medical’s relationships with the charity sector. We are delighted to have worked with a charity doing such meaningful work, and we hope our contribution will support the Myeloma UK Early Diagnosis Programme in securing investment to ensure timely diagnosis for all patients with this disease.” 

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