David Charles, MD: Unintended Consequences of Alternative Funding Programs

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David Charles, MD, highlights how alternative funding programs, though well-intentioned, can inadvertently erode trust between patients and providers and cause delays in healthcare.

In the second part of an interview with HCPLive, David Charles, MD, chief medical officer of the Alliance for Patient Access, discusses how alternative funding programs may unintentionally create distrust among patients and providers.

Charles emphasized these programs can introduce delays in healthcare, particularly for serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, which is contrary to the principle of early diagnosis and treatment and can ultimately result in suboptimal healthcare. Additionally, these programs may lead to stress and anxiety for patients, who suddenly find themselves navigating a complex and unfamiliar process to access essential medications.

Moreover, alternative funding programs may recommend different medications than those prescribed by clinicians, creating a disconnect between patients and their healthcare providers. This discordance can erode trust in the physician-patient relationship, with patients sometimes feeling the prescribed medication is not the best choice, even if it is. Charles stressed such programs may subtly suggest physicians are making inappropriate choices, causing friction in the relationship and potentially undermining patients' trust. These programs are designed to drive patients toward lower-cost medications which may not be the most suitable or even approved for their condition.

Collaboration is key to addressing the challenges posed by alternative funding programs. Firstly, by raising awareness about these issues and discussing them openly, patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers can acknowledge and understand the unintended consequences.

Secondly, education is vital and informing policymakers about these concerns is crucial. It's important to emphasize while health plans aim to save resources, the unintended consequences of these policies can be detrimental. It's also essential to recognize these programs can disproportionately affect specific groups, such as patients with chronic illnesses and those of lower socioeconomic status.

Solutions must prioritize patients and focus on their perspective, Charles concluded. Placing the patient at the center of policy discussions about access to medications for serious or chronic conditions is key.

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