Introduction- Containing expenditure and efficient resource use is essential to limit the increasing costs of health research. Electronic data collection (EDC) is thought to reduce the costs compared to paper-based data collection (PDC). Economic evidence in this area is scanty, especially in low and middle-income countries. Hence, an economic evaluation was conducted to compare the cost between EDC and PDC
Methods- A cost-minimization study was conducted to compare between EDC and PDC from the institutional perspective for the year 2018, based on a community-based survey. Step-down cost accounting was adopted with a bottom-up approach for cost estimation. Total and unit costs were estimated with the base case comparison between EDC and PDC while using SPSS software (e-SPSS and p-SPSS, respectively). We conducted scenario analyses based on usage of different software, R and STATA for both EDC and PDC (e-R, p-R, e-STATA and p-STATA respectively). One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) was performed to examine the robustness of the observed results.
Results- In the base-case analysis, total costs of EDC and PDC were ₹72,617 ($1060.9) and 87,717 ($1281.5) respectively- with estimated cost minimization of ₹ 15,100 ($220.6). In other scenarios, the estimated cost minimization for e-R, e-STATA, p-R, p-STATA were ₹ -274 ($4.0), 98 ($1.4), 14826 ($216.6), and 15,002 ($219.2) respectively when compared to EDC-SPSS. On one-way and PSA, the results of the cost-minimization analysis were robust.
Conclusion- The EDC minimizes institutional cost for conducting health research. This finding will help researchers in planning for the budget for their research to use the resources efficiently