Information about Costs of Care Helps Patients

Upfront discussions about treatment costs can keep patients informed and allow them to find lower-cost alternatives when necessary

Researchers analyzed transcripts of approximately 2,000 patient-provider conversations regarding breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression treatment. They found that when patients brought up cost concerns, the providers either didn’t acknowledge it, or only partially addressed the concerns. The study noted that doctors have not been trained to talk about costs, but rather to focus on the medical issues. However, the cost of not talking about costs may be great. Patients who leave with treatments they can’t afford are less likely to complete them, and end up sicker.

Tools within Epic can provide some help in this area – MyChart can provide cost estimates for patients prior to receiving care and alerts can lead doctors to less-expensive alternatives and help avoid unnecessary testing. While not a substitute for patients and doctors discussing costs together, these tools can help start the conversation

Read more at NPR.