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Biologic therapy for IBD patients through a financial assistance program could have superior outcomes

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who required treatment with biologic therapies and who participated in a financial assistance program were less likely to require surgery after starting medication than those who did not participate in a program, a study by UT Southwestern researchers.

There are gaps in the care of patients with IBD. Our project indicated that providing biologic therapy to IBD patients through a financial assistance program would have superior outcomes compared to patients with delays in receiving treatment.”

Moheb Boktor, MD, associate professor of internal medicine in the division of digestive and liver diseases at UTSW and lead author

Low socioeconomic status is a known risk factor for poor health outcomes and higher health care utilization in many chronic diseases. Financial assistance programs are designed to improve health care for patients of low socioeconomic status through reduced costs for medical services.

For patients with IBD, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, delay in treatment can significantly worsen their condition, leading to increased morbidity and long-term health care costs. Therefore, access to affordable, high-quality health care can have a significant impact on overall outcomes.

The study, published in Pathophysiology, used medical records of indigent IBD patients treated at Parkland Health to evaluate the impact of financial assistance programs on health care outcomes and resource utilization. The hospital’s “safety net” program provides indigent patients with access to deep-discounted medications without authorization from medical insurance companies.

Adult patients who started a new biologic medication for the treatment of IBD between January 2010 and January 2019 were included in the study. The researchers classified the patients based on whether they participated in the financial assistance program or were covered by private or government insurance.

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Compared to insured patients, patients participating in the program were less likely to require surgery. This was consistent even when variables such as age, gender, race, and disease complexity/severity were taken into account.

Interestingly, patients who received financial assistance also underwent more imaging studies before needing surgery than non-program patients. The researchers believe this may be partly due to easier access to required scans because insurance authorization and co-payments are not required. Access to imaging may explain the need for fewer surgeries as these studies can be used to adjust treatment regimens. However, additional studies are needed to fully explore these possibilities, as well as whether participation in financial support programs reduces the overall severity of the disease.

Providing interruption-free therapy for IBD minimizes complications and ensures a normal quality of life for patients, said Dr. longhorn beetle. Programs between health care systems and pharmaceutical companies can potentially close such gaps in health care management for patients with IBD and other chronic diseases.

Other UT Southwestern researchers who contributed to this study include Phillip Gu, Andrew Gilman, Christopher Chang, David I. Fudman, and Ezra Burstein. Elizabeth Moss of the Ambulatory Care Pharmacy at Parkland Health also contributed.


Magazine reference:

Gu, P., et al. (2022) Improved access to health care reduces surgery requirements in indigent IBD patients using biologic therapy: a ‘safety net’ hospital experience. Pathophysiology. doi.org/10.3390/pathophysiology29030030.



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