“There are real, tangible consequences when we prescribe medications to our patients, not just the [adverse] effects studied in clinical trials,” says Brian Cortese.
In this interview, Brian Cortese provides take-home messages from the study, “Estimating the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on the out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries with advanced prostate cancer,” for which he served as the lead author. Cortese is a medical student and business student at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
I want to preface this with the fact that I'm still a student entering the match this year for urology residency, so I have a lot to learn myself. But if I had to boil it down to a couple of take-home messages it's that there are real, tangible consequences when we prescribe medications to our patients, not just the [adverse] effects studied in clinical trials. For example, that financial toxicity I mentioned before. Additionally, we have to work closely with our patients to understand what do those finances look like for medication regimens, and we need to be equipped with the tools in order to counsel them effectively. So, trying to explore, like we're doing with this practical guide that's coming up, but also other tools that we're able to use in order to counsel our patients more effectively without adding a lot more paperwork and administrative burden to our days. So, just making sure that we're equipped with the right tools.
And then I think, lastly, on a policy level, it's important to push for the right balance of both protecting patients with cost sharing, but without encouraging wasteful or indiscriminate spending. There is data out there to suggest that when patients experience no cost sharing that there is higher utilization of low value care and services. But when there's too high, you're indiscriminately cutting back on both high value and low value care. It's striking the right balance of making sure that people are invested, but not breaking the bank. These measures in this Inflation Reduction Act paper that we wrote, demonstrated that it could affect 10s of 1000s of patients with advanced prostate cancer. Just imagining how many patients across the country that are not specifically in urology that could benefit from this new provision, the Inflation Reduction Act, is pretty exciting. I think those are couple of the main takeaways.
And I think, one last point that I have to add, I think that providers and their associated practices are increasingly becoming financial counselors for their patients. And I think this role should be embraced, whether it be the individual clinician, their practice at large, or a dedicated group if they have a bigger infrastructure. But I think it's important that as we continue to counsel our patients on the best medications, the most evidence-based regimens, it's also important to know that we are driving the decision making for a lot of what patients decide to pursue, and becoming more versed in this space can only help the clinicians.
This transcription has been edited for clarity.