#2 (2016 Top 10 EIC Picks) > Study Of Physician And Patient Communication Identifies Missed Opportunities To Help Reduce Patients Out-Of-Pocket Spending
Author: Peter A. Ubel, Cecilia J. Zhang, Ashley Hesson, J. Kelly Davis, Christine Kirby, Jamison Barnett, Wynn G. Hunter
Some experts contend that requiring patients to pay out of pocket for a portion of their care will bring consumer discipline to health care markets. But are physicians prepared to help patients factor out-of-pocket expenses into medical decisions? In this qualitative study of audiorecorded clinical encounters, we identified physician behaviors that stand in the way of helping patients navigate out-of-pocket spending. Some behaviors reflected a failure to fully engage with patients’ financial concerns, from never acknowledging such concerns to dismissing them too quickly. Other behaviors reflected a failure to resolve uncertainty about out-of-pocket expenses or reliance on temporary solutions without making long-term plans to reduce spending. Many of these failures resulted from systemic barriers to health care spending conversations, such as a lack of price transparency. For consumer health care markets to work as intended, physicians need to be prepared to help patients navigate out-of-pocket expenses when financial concerns arise during clinical encounters.