Patient-Physician Communication on Medication Cost during Glaucoma Visits

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Abstract

SIGNIFICANCE

This article is the first to investigate the nature of medication cost discussions between ophthalmologists and glaucoma patients. Only 87 of the 275 office visits analyzed had a discussion of medication cost. Providers should consider discussing medication cost with patients to identify potential cost-related barriers to medication use.

PURPOSE

Glaucoma is an incurable chronic eye disease affecting a growing portion of the aging population. Some of the most commonly utilized treatments require lifelong use, requiring high patient adherence to ensure effectiveness. There are numerous barriers to glaucoma treatment adherence in the literature, including cost. The aim of this secondary analysis was to describe the frequency and nature of patient-physician communication regarding medication cost during glaucoma office visits.

METHODS

This was a mixed-methods secondary analysis of video-recorded participant office visits (n = 275) from a larger observational study of glaucoma communication. We analyzed medical information, demographic characteristics, and interviewer-administrated questionnaires, as well as verbatim transcripts of interviews.

RESULTS

Only 87 participants discussed medication cost during their glaucoma office visit. The majority of the subjects who discussed cost had mild disease severity (51%), took one glaucoma medication (63%), and had Medicare (49%) as well as a form of prescription insurance (78%). The majority of glaucoma office visits did not discuss medication cost, and providers often did not ask about cost problems. Of the few conversations related to cost, most focused on providers offering potential solutions (n = 50), medical and prescription service coverage (n = 41), and brand or generic medication choices (n = 41).

CONCLUSIONS

Our findings are similar to previous studies showing few patients have conversations with providers about the cost of glaucoma medications. Providers should consider bringing up medication cost during glaucoma office visits to prompt a discussion of potential cost-related barriers to medication use.

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