Using Multivariate Assay Panel Results in Cost Savings in Diagnosis of SLE

Costs Associated With DMARD Therapy
Costs Associated With DMARD Therapy
Researchers evaluated the potential budget impact of using multivariate assay panel vs standard diagnostic laboratory tests to diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus.

Incorporating multivariate assay panel (MAP) use in the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) results in a 4-year direct cost savings of approximately $2 million, according to study results published in the American College of Rheumatology Open Rheumatology.

Although studies have shown that MAP may be more sensitive and specific than standard diagnostic laboratory tests (SDLTs) in the diagnosis of SLE, the impact on payer budget of using MAP vs SDLTs to diagnose SLE has not yet been determined.

To evaluate the potential budget impact of using MAP vs SDLTs to diagnose SLE on a United States commercial health plan, a theoretical model using anonymized patient data and longitudinal pharmacy claims data was developed and analyzed. Pre- and postdiagnosis costs for MAP and SDLTs over a 4-year time horizon were assessed.

During the 4-year time horizon, the direct medical costs to a payer for 1000 patients with suspected SLE totaled $59,183,666 if patients were tested with MAP compared with $61,174,818 if patients were tested with SDLTs. Using MAP for the diagnosis of SLE resulted in an incremental savings of $1,991,152. Although postdiagnosis costs are higher for patients diagnosed with MAP, prediagnosis savings are greater, resulting in net positive savings.

Results of this study showed that the improved test performance of MAP in the diagnosis of SLE resulted in a total direct cost savings of nearly $2 million. The higher postdiagnosis costs observed in MAP-assisted diagnosis were due to the greater number of individuals diagnosed early and who received treatment. The improved specificity of MAP enables earlier diagnosis of SLE, which leads to earlier implementation of proper intervention and fewer prediagnosis hospitalizations.

One of the study limitations included basing certain assumptions on limited data or researchers’ best judgment. Variations in these assumptions may result in significant impact to the model outcomes.

Researchers concluded, “By facilitating earlier diagnosis of SLE, MAP may enhance patient outcomes.”

Disclosures: This study was supported by Exagen Inc. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Clarke AE, Weinstein A, Piscitello A, et al. Evaluation of the economic benefit of earlier systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) diagnosis using a multivariate assay panel (MAP). ACR Open Rheumatol. 2020;2(11):629-639. doi:10.1002/acr2.11177