Providers, patients spend less than 2 min. talking care costs, on average: 5 things to know

Physicians and patients will work together to implement cost-saving solutions in their care plans — that is, if they breach the topic of cost during clinical appointments, according to a study from Forbes.

In the study, researchers analyzed physician-patient appointment transcripts from 1,755 outpatient visits in community-based practices from 2010 to 2014. The study population included 677 patients with breast cancer, 422 with depression and 656 with rheumatoid arthritis.

Below are five findings from the study.

1. Healthcare costs came up as a topic of conversation in about 30 percent of outpatient visits, meaning that in 70 percent of clinical encounters there was no discussion of healthcare costs and no discussion of how to reduce patients' out-of-pocket expenditures. 

2. When physicians and patients did broach the conversation of care expenses, however, patient cost-saving strategies came up almost 45 percent of the time.

3. When conversations about cost did occur they were often quite brief, with 76 percent of cost-centric conversations lasting less than two minutes.

4. The study identified four of the most frequent strategies physicians and patients discussed as a means to lower patient expenses without changing the care plan. In order of frequency, strategies included: changing the logistics of care, facilitating co-payment assistance, providing free samples and changing/adding insurance plans for enhanced coverage.

5. In almost 50 percent of cost discussions between physicians and patients, one or more of the aforementioned cost-saving strategies was mentioned.

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