There is limited amount of information published that analyzes physician-patient cost communication during clinic visits. Published estimates of the amount of patients who discuss costs with their physicians range from 14% to 44%, and even less is known about the types and frequency of cost-reducing strategies discussed.
For this reason, Professor Peter Ubel and colleagues sought to collect more information on this topic by using the Verilogue Point-of-Practice database of audio-recorded clinical encounters. After collecting the dialogue from 1755 outpatient visits nationwide between 2010 and 2014, the team identified four strategies discussed to lower costs without changing the care plan, as well as four strategies discussed to lower costs by changing the care plan. They found that 30% of conversations included a discussion of costs, and 44% of those visits contained a discussion of cost-saving strategies. He noted the study’s limitations, including the fact that they could only study one visit per patient, which means cost conversations could have occurred in unaccounted visits. Further study of cost conversations is needed given the fact that over a quarter of Americans still endure financial distress trying to pay medical bills.
Read more in “What Strategies Do Physicians and Patients Discuss to Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs? Analysis of Cost-Saving Strategies in 1755 Outpatient Clinic Visits” Medical Decision Making.
Ubel, P.A., Hunter, W. G., Zhang, C.Z., Hesson, A., Davis, J.K., Kirby, C., Williamson L.D., & Barnett, J.A. (2016). What Strategies Do Physicians and Patients Discuss to Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs? Analysis of Cost-Saving Strategies in 1755 Outpatient Clinic Visits. Medical Decision Making. doi: 10.1177/0272989X15626384