Physicians must be willing to drive financial discussions with their patients. Too many patients who are struggling financially to pay for medications won’t initiate the conversation.
Reviewed by Yvonne Ou, MD
Physicians often are faced with walking a tightrope of providing services without placing undue financial burdens on their patients. Yvonne Ou, MD, is an associate professor, co-director of the Glaucoma Service, and Vice Chair for Postgraduate Education in the Department of Ophthalmology, UCSF.
She specializes in treating glaucoma with medical, laser and surgical therapies. During the recent American Glaucoma Society annual meeting, she presented “Practical Tips and Tricks to Ease Your Patients’ Financial Burdens.” She shared ways a physician can help his or her patients with the cost of medications.
“We must talk to our patients and consider switching medication class,” she stated. Virtually every practice must deal with prescription issues. Prescription drug costs are a pressing concern for both physicians and patients. Rising drug prices affect patients’ out-of-pocket costs as well as the budgets of private and public payers, though the challenges can vary by payer.
Physicians are the front line of treatment and you can encourage patients to shop around and talk to their pharmacists.
“I think the take home message is that we need to be the ones initiating these discussions,” she said, noting that about half of patients facing financial issues with prescription costs will not broach the subject with their physician.
If a patient is not getting the needed medications, treatment of an ongoing condition can be impeded. Glaucoma is a lifelong disease, and physicians must work with their patients to create a treatment plan that is sustainable over the long term.
Yvonne Ou, MD
P: 415/476-0779 E: [email protected]
This article was adapted from Dr. Ou’s presentation at the 2019 meeting of the American Glaucoma Society. Dr. Ou has no financial disclosures related to this article to release.