Durham, NC — The first question a patient asks about a new prescription today is more likely to be “how much?” than “how to?”. With more healthcare costs than even being transferred to consumers, doctors are expected to be experts on the medicine and the economics of acquiring it.
Researchers at Duke teamed up with the Verilogue to find out just how common these conversations are and how doctors are handling them. The team studied the dialogue between doctor and patient in 1,755 out-patient visits. The sample included people living with breast cancer, depression and rheumatoid arthritis.
The findings: 1:3 visits included conversations about costs. And, in 44% of those conversations, physicians worked with the patient to create cost-saving strategies, some of which significantly changed the plan for care:
- Logistics, such as switching pharmacies or scheduling tests when deductibles had already been met (23 percent)
- Switching to a lower-cost therapy or test (22 percent)
- Using co-pay assistance or drug coupons (21 percent)
- Switching from a brand name drug to a generic equivalent (7 percent)
- Free samples of new medication (13 percent)
Financial health literacy is a growing expectation in the exam room. And, increasingly, it’s one new doctors are prepared for. UCLA and other leading medical schools are making it part of the curriculum. In fact, the simple car analogy used in this pop quiz says a lot about just how much there is to learn and how much translation will need to be used along the way.
Why it matters:
- The Duke study is one your sales training team will want to see. It’s not enough for the front office to know about co-pay and access programs. Conversations are happening in the exam room about costs – the answers have to be there, too.
- The UCLA program points to how sophisticated some doctors are on cost planning. That’s going to be yet another driver in the value debate we pointed to in our 2016 Health Trends report.