With an operations cost comparison study, the laboratory can compare the cost per test of reagent, supplies, controls, calibrators, depreciation, maintenance, and possibly labor. If no new hires are required or labor hours added, labor does not have to be part of the study. In addition, if the instrument is a replacement and no new space or adjustment in environmental conditions is required, indirect costs do not need to be determined. The table below is a basic example of an instrument cost study comparing the current instrument and two other instruments being considered for purchase.
|Operations Cost Comparison Study|
(Cost per test $)
|Instrument||Reagents||Supplies ||Controls ||Calibrators ||Depreciation ||Maintenance ||Labor ||Total Direct Costs|
|Current Instrument|| $1.25|| $0.31|| $0.15|| $0.15|| $0.00|| $0.80|| $2.50|| $5.16|
|Instrument A|| $0.15|| $0.31|| $0.05|| $0.15|| $1.25|| $0.40|| $0.75|| $3.06|
|Instrument B|| $0.20|| $0.17|| $0.10|| $0.15|| $2.76|| $1.05|| $1.05|| $4.58|
Labor was considered because it was estimated labor hours would be decreased due to the added automation.
The decision maker may, at first, rush into thinking that instrument A is the best choice because the direct cost is the lowest in this cost comparison study. However, the well-informed decision maker will look at a variety of factors in addition to cost. For example, ease of use, menu options on the instrument, type and size of samples required, preference of operators, the ability of the instrument to handle a larger volume if that is anticipated, compatibility with LIS and electronic patient records, etc.
In the hospital managed care setting, the cost pert test data and operation comparison study may be the only financial data needed for decision making unless they are doing a considerable volume of fee for service laboratory testing.