OBJECTIVE: We investigated patient experiences with medication- and test-related cost conversations with healthcare providers to identify their preferences for future informatics tools to facilitate cost-sensitive care decisions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted 18 semistructured interviews with diverse patients (ages 24-81) in a Midwestern health system in the United States. We identified themes through 2 rounds of qualitative coding.

RESULTS: Patients believed their providers could help reduce medication-related costs but did not see how providers could influence test-related costs. Patients viewed cost conversations about medications as beneficial when providers could adjust medical recommendations or provide resources. However, cost conversations did not always occur when patients felt they were needed. Consequently, patients faced a "cascade of work" to address affordability challenges. To prevent this, collaborative informatics tools could facilitate cost conversations and shared decision-making by providing information about a patient's financial constraints, enabling comparisons of medication/testing options, and addressing transportation logistics to facilitate patient follow-through.

DISCUSSION: Like providers, patients want informatics tools that address patient out-of-pocket costs. They want to discuss healthcare costs to reduce the frequency of unaffordable costs and obtain proactive assistance. Informatics interventions could minimize the cascade of patient work through shared decision-making and preventative actions. Such tools might integrate information about efficacy, costs, and side effects to support decisions, present patient decision aids, facilitate coordination among healthcare units, and eventually improve patient outcomes.

CONCLUSION: To prevent a burdensome cascade of work for patients, informatics tools could be designed to support cost conversations and decisions between patients and providers.

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Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA

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