Addressing Patient Needs Around the Cost of Care

A key takeaway from a panel discussion at the Patient Access Network Foundation’s second cost-sharing roundtable was the need for educating stakeholders.
Published Online: March 01, 2017
Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
The Patient Access Network Foundation’s second cost-sharing roundtable, held February 24, 2017, gathered health policy researchers and patient advocates for open discussion on the best way to initiate a doctor-patient conversation around the stress of healthcare costs. The key takeaway from the discussion was a need for educating all involved. 

Participants on the panel included Andrea Baer, MS, director of patient advocacy at Mended Hearts, Inc; Jalpa A. Doshi, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Mary Richards, executive director at Partners for Better Care; Veena Shankaran, MD, MS, associate professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington; and Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD, scientific investigator I at the Group Health Research Institute.

Clifford Goodman, PhD, senior vice president at the The Lewin Group, moderated the panel and asked the health policy researchers to describe how their work would influence the doctor-patient interaction on the topic of healthcare costs.

Shankaran, whose research includes developing strategies to improve the financial literacy of patients, indicated that while there is growing awareness, and physician organizations like the American Society of Clinical Oncology have been working toward improving the conversation, the process to achieve this end goal remains ambiguous.

“Do we speak about the specifics or do we just acknowledge that the cost is substantial? What is this communication about?” asked Shankaran. She believes that health systems need to develop strategies that will inform and educate patients.

The question is, are doctors up to speed to handle these discussions?

“Most clinicians are caring and they recognize that patients are struggling with the cost of care,” Shankaran said. “However, a lot depends on patients bringing up this issue.”

The first step is acknowledging that there’s a problem and then creating a team that can help address it.

Goodman wanted to understand the importance of peer support for these discussions.

“When we talk about what we can do, we need to understand the [mindset] of ‘average’ people making these decisions,” said Baer. Her organization, Mended Hearts, is a nonprofit that partners with hospitals around the country to provide heart patients and their family givers a peer-to-peer support network.



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