Given the vulnerable populations affected by sickle cell disease (SCD), patients benefit from comprehensive, multidisciplinary care teams. This review found financial advantages to comprehensive care by reducing the costs associated with acute visits, such as hospitalizations.
Despite advances in therapies for sickle cell disease (SCD), economic challenges still prevent health care providers from adopting comprehensive, patient-centered care. Although costs should not be the most important consideration when determining a care plan, the most clinically effective care may also be the most cost-effective. In their review article, Nero and Bozzo detail the economic concerns pertaining to SCD and argue that comprehensive care models will improve patient outcomes while reducing costs.
Ideally, care teams should support the logistical aspects of disease management, such as patient engagement and financial planning, as well as systemic and socio-economic challenges. The variable nature of SCD presentation as patients age complicates the widespread application of comprehensive care models. Because of this, successful models support continuity of care and integrate programs for patients during transitional life stages. They also address pain management, mental health care, and outpatient treatment.
Patients with SCD are more likely to have public health insurance, which may not cover the complete cost of care. While comprehensive outpatient programs may be more costly for providers up front, they will ultimately reduce costs by decreasing the need for repeated acute care. The authors cite previous research showing that hospitals with comprehensive SCD programs had more outpatient engagement, fewer readmissions within 30 days of release, and reduced use of opioid treatments for pain management.
Patients with SCD require comprehensive, multidisciplinary care to best address their unique needs and minimize the financial impact of the disease. Implementation of comprehensive SCD care will reduce costs for patients and healthcare providers while enhancing patients’ total quality of life.
Nero, A., & Bozzo, J. (2022). Economics of Sickle Cell Disease and Evidence to Support Comprehensive Care. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America, 36(6), 1125-1135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hoc.2022.07.013