Patients who have both clinical and cost information make better healthcare decisions

In 2020, with funding from the New York Community Trust, we launched our first set of groundbreaking decision aids (with clinical and cost information) for critically ill patients facing decisions about dialysis, nutritional options and mechanical ventilation. The tools have been introduced in a new shared decision-making section of Fair Health Consumers – our free national consumer website.

The results of the program underlined the appetite for these tools with cost information. In April 2021, with funding from the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, we launched a provider-centric shared decision-making educational website, which has been well received by providers.

Specifically, Fair Health’s decision aids combine clinical information from EBSCO’s OptionGridTM decision aids and the cost data from our private health insurance claims database, which includes more than 39 billion claims records from 2002 to date. The result: free, easy-to-use tools that enable consumers to explore potential treatment options with their physicians and estimate associated costs.

Fair healthcare cost data is used by a variety of stakeholders, including payers, providers, state and federal governments, and many more.

Earlier this year, Fair Health, funded by the New York Health Foundation in collaboration with Dr. Chima Ndumele of Yale University, at Fair Health Consumer, launched four new shared decision-making tools (combining clinical and cost information) for three conditions that disproportionately affect people of color: uterine fibroids (separately, procedure and medication), type 2 Diabetes and slow-growing prostate cancer.

The tools were launched along with educational content, resources, and printable checklists of vendor questions. Fair Health’s multi-channel outreach campaign promoted the tools to patients from minority groups, providers, community health organizations and policy makers, among others.

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Building on previous programs, the results of our NYHealth-funded program demonstrated how clear, objective information can support healthcare decision-making and provided compelling reasons for testing these tools in clinical settings. 76% of survey respondents found the tools’ cost information helpful, and 80% of them said the tools facilitated healthcare decision-making.

When asked what they thought was most helpful, 55% of survey respondents cited Resources, 57% Checklists and Toolkits, and 26% Decision Support, which may indicate that educational content is critical when using these tools. Patients found the checklists particularly useful for navigating healthcare. This was further supported by Fair Health consumer analysis, which reflected that 40% of visitors to the shared decision-making section had clicked on the checklists.

Taken together, these findings can inform micro- and macro-level practices that can improve healthcare in New York and across the country.

Robin Gelburd is the Founding President of Fair Health, a national independent non-profit organization.

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