Estimating Public and Patient Savings From Basic Research—A Study of Optical Coherence Tomography in Managing Antiangiogenic Therapy

Matthew A. Windsor, Sissi J.J. Sun, Kevin D. Frick, Eric A. Swanson, Philip J. Rosenfeld, David Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose To compare patient and Medicare savings from the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) in guiding therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD) to the research investments made in developing OCT by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Design Observational cohort study. Methods Main outcome measures were spending by Medicare as tracked by Current Procedural Terminology codes on intravitreal injections (67028), retinal OCT imaging (92134), and anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) treatment–specific J-codes (J0178, J2778, J9035, J3490, and J3590). These claims were identified from the Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services among fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries from 2012 to 2015; 2008 claims were acquired from the 100% FFS Part B Medicare Claims File. OCT research costs were determined by searching for grants awarded by NIH and NSF from inception to 2015. All costs and savings were discounted by 3% annually and adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars. Results From 2008 to 2015, the United States government and nvAMD patients have accrued an estimated savings of $9.0 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, from the use of OCT to guide personalized anti-VEGF treatment. The $9.0 billion represents a 21-fold return on government investment into developing the technology through NIH and NSF grants. Conclusions Although an overall cost-benefit ratio of government-sponsored research is difficult to estimate because the benefit may be diffuse and delayed, the investment in OCT over 2 decades has been recouped many times over in just a few years through better personalized therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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