Health economics in the exam room: doctors and patients discussing the costs of health care

imageA new conversation has begun between doctors and patients: talking about money and health care, and what treatments cost — specifically, what a particular treatment will cost a patient, out-of-pocket.

Over a dozen physician professional societies are proponents of these discussions, and are providing support to doctors in their networks.

Doctors already engaging in the topic of the cost of care with patients aren’t being altruistic about spending this precious time in the already-time-constrained patient encounter: these discussions are increasingly relevant to physicians’ financial outcomes.

I’ll be addressing this new feature in the doctor’s office at the upcoming Point-of-Care conference, September 30, 2014, in Baltimore, in my talk – Health Economic Conversations Enter the Physician-Patient Relationship, sponsored by DTC Perspectives.

Heath Populi’s Hot Points: Patients and physicians engaging in shared decision-making have the additional issue of the cost of treatment to add into their conversations. The results of these discussions impact both sides of the dialogue, in terms of health outcomes and financial wellness. The more prepared a patient is — clinically and financially — before a treatment is undertaken — the more likely the patient will fare better in health engagement and outcome, and the less likely the patient will experience ‘sticker shock’ at the point of payment or receipt of the EOB statement. These conversations, which bring financial transparency to health consumers, can help bolster physicians’ bill collections – a growing problem as people take on more financial risk in the high-deductible health plan environment.


About Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist, advisor and trend-weaver to organizations at the intersection of health, technology and people. Jane founded THINK-Health after spending a decade as a health care consultant in firms in the U.S. and Europe. Jane’s clients are all stakeholders in health, including technology, bio/life sciences, providers, plans, financial services, consumer products, public sector and not-for-profit organizations. Jane founded the Health Populi blog in 2007, covering health policy, technology, and consumers.

2 Responses to Health economics in the exam room: doctors and patients discussing the costs of health care

  1. Schiffon August 22, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Jane, have you seen this provocative, ironic, and sarcastic perspective on the recent admonishments from Peter Ubel and the misappropriation of shared decision making as a tool to deny services to the poor?


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