Patient Retention Rates Damaged by Surprise Financial Costs

Mary Veazie, MBA, CPA, CHC, CHRC, Executive Director for Clinical Research Finance, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Misunderstandings and lackluster communication at the outset of a clinical trial can result in painful financial sticker shock for patients and derail retention rates down the line, says Mary Veazie, MBA, CPA, CHC, CHRC, executive director for clinical research finance at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

She brings an important financial perspective too often overlooked when trials are being designed. “You have to ensure everyone is speaking the same language and using clinical and financial terms in the same way” when developing trials—especially when it comes to what insurance will typically cover, Veazie says.

For example, it’s critical to make clear distinctions between routine care and standard of care when designing a clinical trial. If a sponsor doesn’t cover the given billing line item in the clinical trial in question, patients can often be left with surprise bills from their insurance company if procedures are not laid out clearly and defined properly, Veazie says.

Veazie speaks from experience as a leader at one of the nation’s most innovative cancer centers. “Our treatment plans are often ahead of insurance coverage” in terms of what the insurance company will recognize it should cover at the outset, she says. It’s vital for clinical trial practitioners, physicians, and others to possess a clear understanding of what will and won’t be covered for patients from the very beginning.

Strategies for Effective Communication: Establishing the Foundation

Join Veazie and Erika Stevens, of Recherche Transformation Rapide, at ACRP 2022 where they will share strategies for effective communication. These expert speakers will define communication models and share tools for communication planning, all while sharing case studies of successful and unsuccessful communication in clinical research.

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“Educate your faculty and show them [coverage] denial and reimbursement data,” Veazie suggests. In addition to putting an undue financial burden on a patient, the financial impact will often force the patient to abandon the trial, and that’s not good for anyone, she notes.

“Have careful conversations” at the very beginning so everyone understands who is paying for what, and to avoid patients being hit with unwelcome surprises, she says. “There are nuances” which must be addressed early as possible in the process to protect patients financially and keep them in a clinical trial for the duration, she adds.

Author: Michael Causey