Background The Odette Cancer Centre’s recent implementation of a rapid diagnostic unit (rdu) for breast lesions has significantly decreased wait times to diagnosis. However, the economic impact of the unit remains unknown. This project defined the development and implementation costs and the operational costs of a breast rdu in a tertiary care facility. Methods From an institutional perspective, a budget impact analysis identified the direct costs associated with the breast rdu. A base-case model was also used to calculate the cost per patient to achieve a diagnosis. Sensitivity analyses computed costs based on variations in key components. Costs are adjusted to 2015 valuations using health care–specific consumer price indices and are reported in Canadian dollars. Results Initiation cost for the rdu was $366,243. The annual operational cost for support staff was $111,803. The average per-patient clinical cost for achieving a diagnosis was $770. Sensitivity analyses revealed that, if running at maximal institutional capacity, the total annual clinical cost for achieving a diagnosis could range between $136,080 and $702,675. Conclusions Establishment and maintenance of a breast rdu requires significant investment to achieve reductions in time to diagnosis. Expenditures ought to be interpreted in the context of institutional patient volumes and trade-offs in patient-centred outcomes, including lessened patient anxiety and possibly shorter times to definitive treatment. Our study can be used as a resource-planning tool for future rdus in health care systems wishing to improve diagnostic efficiency.
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