Discussing Health Care Expenses in the Oncology Clinic: Analysis of Cost Conversations in Outpatient Encounters.
PURPOSE: ASCO identified oncologist-patient conversations about cancer costs as an important component of high-quality care. However, limited data exist characterizing the content of these conversations. We sought to provide novel insight into oncologist-patient cost conversations by determining the content of cost conversations in breast cancer clinic visits. METHODS: We performed content analysis of transcribed dialogue from 677 outpatient appointments for breast cancer management. Encounters featured 677 patients with breast cancer visiting 56 oncologists nationwide from 2010 to 2013. RESULTS: Cost conversations were identified in 22% of visits (95% CI, 19 to 25) and had a median duration of 33 seconds (interquartile range, 19 to 62). Fifty-nine percent of cost conversations were initiated by oncologists (95% CI, 51 to 67), who most commonly brought up costs for antineoplastic agents. By contrast, patients most frequently brought up costs for diagnostic tests. Thirty-eight percent of cost conversations mentioned cost-reducing strategies (95% CI, 30 to 46), which most commonly sought to lower patient costs for endocrine therapies and symptom-alleviating treatments. The three most commonly discussed cost-reducing strategies were: switching to a lower-cost therapy/diagnostic, changing logistics of the intervention, and facilitating copay assistance. CONCLUSION: We identified cost conversations in approximately one in five breast cancer visits. Cost conversations were mostly oncologist initiated, lasted < 1 minute, and dealt with a wide range of health care expenses. Cost-reducing strategies were mentioned in more than one third of cost conversations and often involved switching antineoplastic agents for lower-cost alternatives or altering logistics of diagnostic tests.
Hunter, WG; Zafar, SY; Hesson, A; Davis, JK; Kirby, C; Barnett, JA; Ubel, PA
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