Meeting Unmet Needs for Stroke Rehabilitation in Rural Public Health: Explorative Economic Evaluation of Upper Limb Robotics-Based Technologies through a Capabilities Lens

Natasha Brusco, Andrea Voogt, Melissa Nott, Libby Callaway, Mae Mansoubi, Natasha Layton

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Abstract

Rehabilitation technologies are rapidly evolving, presenting promising interventions for people with neurological impairments. Access to technology, however, is greater in metropolitan than rural areas. Applying a capabilities approach to this access issue foregrounds healthcare recipients’ rights and personhood within the discourse on resource allocation. Within this context, this study aimed to investigate the economic viability of robotics-based therapy (RBT) in rural Victoria, Australia. A regional health network developed a model of care to provide equitable access to RBT following stroke. This explorative economic evaluation examined both the clinical and economic impact of RBT program implementation across six program iterations compared to 1:1 out-patient rehabilitation. While clinical outcomes were equivalent, the per patient RBT cost ranged from AUD 2681 (Program 1) to AUD 1957 (Program 6), while the per patient cost of usual care 1:1 out-patient rehabilitation, was AUD 2584. Excluding Program 1, the health service cost of usual care 1:1 out-patient rehabilitation was consistently higher, indicating that an established RBT program may be cost-effective, specifically providing less cost for the same effect. This research demonstrates the economic feasibility of delivering RBT in a regional public health stroke service. More broadly, it provided a reduction in the capability gap between rural and metropolitan stroke survivors by tackling an access disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143
JournalSocieties
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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