Bridging A Disconnect In Healthcare Delivery
By Christopher Hughey
One of the biggest issues in our healthcare system is the disconnect between cost visibility and care delivery. Doctors are typically trained to deliver the best care they possibly can for the indicated diagnosis, as well they should be. But they rarely have at hand the information necessary to determine if that course of treatment will be financially feasible for the patient. If there are no alternatives and the patient needs the indicated treatment to live, then it’s a moot point. But in many cases, there are indeed alternatives, so arming doctors with better insights into the cost of treatment for that particular patient can mean the difference between that patient getting the care they need and not getting that care due to financial constraints.
Take medications. When you as a doctor prescribe a drug, you normally have absolutely no idea how much it will cost that particular patient. With all the differences in plans and programs and copay assistance policies, who can know? It could be free for Joe Smith, your 1 o’clock patient, and cost $500 a week for Jane Jones, your 2 o’clock. And while hopefully Jane would call the office and explore alternatives if that’s the case, she may very well not; she may simply not take that medication and hope for the best, which can be a deadly strategy.
That’s all about to change. Later this year, we’re releasing a new feature that will tell you the doctor right there on the screen in your EHR what the medication you’re about to prescribe will cost for that particular patient based on their profile. It will even suggest alternatives in case the pricing is not feasible for the patient. It will take into account not only that patient’s particular insurance plan, but also membership in programs like GoodRx.
Think back in your career about how many times you’ve experienced or heard of cases of patients dying or suffering because they neglected to take the medications they were prescribed. In many of these tragic cases, the cause is simply failure to adhere to the treatment protocol. But in many others, the cause is financial: the patient simply couldn’t afford the prescribed pharmaceutical(s). This new feature won’t solve all our problems: there will still be cases where there are no affordable alternatives for the patient. But it is an important new tool for doctors to reduce non-adherence and to help more patients get better faster.
Christopher Hughey is the founder and CEO of Fast Layne Solutions.