Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who require treatment with biologic therapy and who are enrolled in financial assistance programs are less likely to require surgery after starting medication than those who are not enrolled in the program found in a study by researchers at UT Southwestern.
There are gaps in the care of IBD patients. Our project noted that providing biologic therapy to IBD patients through financial assistance programs yields superior outcomes compared to patients who are delayed in receiving treatment.”
Moheb Boktor, MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and First Author, Department of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, UTSW
Low socioeconomic status is a well-known risk factor for poor health outcomes and increased utilization of health care resources for many chronic diseases. The Financial Assistance Program is designed to improve health care for patients of lower socioeconomic status through reduced costs of medical services.
For patients with IBDs such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, delayed treatment can significantly exacerbate the condition, leading to increased long-term morbidity and healthcare costs. Access to affordable, quality health care can therefore have a significant impact on overall outcomes.
Research published in pathophysiologyused medical records of impoverished IBD patients treated at Parkland Health to assess the impact of financial assistance programs on medical outcomes and resource utilization. Provides access to medicines at deep discounts to needy patients without requiring approval.
Adult patients who started a new biologic for the treatment of IBD between January 2010 and January 2019 were included in the study. Researchers categorized patients according to whether they were enrolled in a financial assistance program or had private or government insurance.
Patients enrolled in the program were less likely to require surgery than those covered by insurance. This was consistent even after considering variables such as age, sex, race, and disease complexity/severity.
Interestingly, patients receiving financial assistance had more imaging studies before they needed surgery than those without the program. Researchers believe this may be partly due to easier access to the necessary scans, as insurance approval and co-payment are not required. Access to imaging may explain the need for surgery, as these studies may be used to adjust treatment plans. However, additional research is needed to fully explore these possibilities and whether enrollment in financial assistance programs reduces overall disease severity.
Uninterrupted treatment of IBD minimizes complications and allows patients to achieve a normal quality of life, Dr. Boktor said. Programs between the health care system and pharmaceutical companies could fill these gaps in the health care management of patients with IBD and other chronic diseases.
Other UT Southwestern researchers who contributed to this work include Phillip Gu, Andrew Gilman, Christopher Chang, David I. Fudman, and Ezra Burstein. Her Elizabeth Moss of Parkland Health’s ambulatory care pharmacy also contributed.