Background Outreach and promotion programs are essential to ensuring uptake of new public health interventions and guidelines. We assessed the costs and operation dynamics of outreach and promotion efforts for up front Xpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) testing for pediatric presumptive tuberculosis (TB) patients in four major Indian cities. Methods Xpert test costs were assessed as weighted average per-test costs based on the daily workload dynamics matched by test volume specific Xpert unit cost at each study site. Costs of outreach programs to recruit health providers to refer pediatric patients for Xpert testing were assessed as cost per referral for each quarter based on total program costs and referral data. All costs were assessed in the health service provider’s perspective and expressed in 2015 USD. Results Weighted average per-test costs ranged from $14.71 to $17.81 at the four laboratories assessed. Differences between laboratories were associated with unused testing capacity and/or frequencies of overtime work to cope with increasing demand and same-day testing requirements. Outreach activities generated between 825 and 2,065 Xpert testing referrals on average each quarter across the four study sites, translating into $0.63 to $2.55 per patient referred. Overall outreach costs per referral decreased with time, stabilizing at an average cost of $1.10, and demonstrated a clear association with increased referrals. Conclusions Xpert test and outreach program costs within and across study sites were mainly driven by the dynamics of Xpert testing demand resulting from the combined outreach activities. However, these increases in demand required considerable overtime work resulting in additional costs and operational challenges at the study laboratories. Therefore, careful laboratory operational adjustment should be evaluated at target areas in parallel to the anticipated demand from the Xpert referral outreach program scale-up in other Indian regions.
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