Skip to main content


Log in

When does testing for GERD become cost effective in an integrated health network?

  • Published:
Surgical Endoscopy Aims and scope Submit manuscript



Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affecting as many as 14% of the US population. Rising rates of esophageal adenocarcinoma are seen in this population, and chronic proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use does not normalize cancer risk. It has also been demonstrated that up to one-third of patients on PPI therapy did not actually have GERD and could be taken off the medication. These facts form the basis for a quality-assurance study of care provided to patients in an integrated health care network who were on high-dose, long-term PPI therapy.


A cost–benefit analysis of patients who were on double-dose PPI therapy for more than 6 months was performed. Pharmacy, facility, physician reimbursement, and radiologic data from a cohort who were both primary-care patients and insured in our system were utilized.


Two hundred and twenty-four patients were prescribed a double dose of this medication for over 6 months. Utilizing a 4.5% discount rate, our break-even analysis showed that Bravo testing [with esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)] needed to identify those patients who could be taken off PPI therapy paid for itself in 33 months. Bravo + EGD + manometry testing needed to screen for other possible pathologies paid for itself in 38 months. Bravo + barium swallow + EGD testing to screen patients for possible esophageal adenocarcinoma paid for itself in 42 months. Bravo + barium swallow + manometry + EGD testing paid for itself in 47 months.


Significant savings can be realized through early use of upper endoscopy, Bravo testing, barium swallow, and manometry to identify patients that are taking double-dose PPIs unnecessarily based on presumptive diagnosis of GERD. This early testing also has the potential to diagnose a variety of other clinically important pathologic conditions more readily.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. American Gastroenterological Association (2008) AGA releases evidence-based GERD guidelines. Press release. Accessed 6 June 2009

  2. Ogbru O (2008) GENERIC NAME: omeprazole, omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate. MedicineNet. Accessed 6 June 2009

  3. Pollock K, Grime J (2003) The cost and cost-effectiveness of PPIs—GP perspectives and responses to a prescribing dilemma and their implications for the development of patient-centred healthcare. Eur J Gen Pract 9:140

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Grime J, Pollock K, Blenkinsopp A (2001) Proton pump inhibitors: perspectives of patients and their GPs. Br J Gen Pract 51:703–711

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Hess T, Hahn E, Konturek P (2009) Bravo wireless 48 hour pH-metric system. Med Sci Monit. Accessed 6 June 2009

  6. Yusuf T (2007) Esophagogastroduodenoscopy. EMedicine. Accessed 6 June 2009

  7. Chan MF (1996) Complications of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Gastrointest Endosc Clin North Am 6(2):287–303

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Oelschlager BK et al (2008) Long-term outcomes after laparoscopic antireflux surgery. Am J Gastroenterol 103:280–287

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Our thanks to Art Ream, Ann Naughton, and Steve Cano for their assistance.


Anoop Raman, Joel Sternbach, Azeesat Babajide, and Ketan Sheth have no commercial disclosures. Steven Schwaitzberg has served on Merck speakers’ bureau and as a consultant to Starion in the past 3 years; he has ongoing consultant activities with Olympus, Stryker, Surgiquest, Neatstitch, Cambridge Endo, and Endocore. None of these activities are related to the submitted manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven D. Schwaitzberg.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Raman, A., Sternbach, J., Babajide, A. et al. When does testing for GERD become cost effective in an integrated health network?. Surg Endosc 24, 1245–1249 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: