Individuals at risk for financial toxicity from the high costs of hematologic cancer care reported saving an average of $2,500 when guided by the services of an oncology financial navigation program, researchers reported in the Journal of Oncology Practice.
For the single-arm feasibility and acceptability trial, the authors screened 1,179 patients with hematologic cancer for financial toxicity; 60 of those were positive, eligible for the study, and consented to complete surveys.
The patients and their caregivers met in person and by phone and email with an embedded a financial navigator in their institution’s division of hematology and bone marrow transplantation to address their financial toxicity needs. Specifically, the navigator:
- Screened for financial toxicity and unmet financial needs
- Discussed costs of care and provided estimates
- Assessed for adequate health insurance coverage and helped them apply for additional coverage if needed
- Facilitated internal financial assistance program applications
- Connected them to disease-specific resources and other external assistance programs
- Coordinated financial assistance services during discharge and transitions between outpatient and inpatient settings
- Referred patients to social workers and other resources as needed
On postintervention surveys, both patients and caregivers reported statistically significant decreases in the Comprehensive Score, with the majority rating the intervention highly acceptable (89%) and appropriate (88%). Caregivers also had a statistically significant decrease in material conditions scores. Overall for all participants combined, the navigator secured a total of $124,600 in financial benefits, which averages to about $2,500 per participant.
“Close collaboration and coordination with existing services and workflows are essential for the seamless integration of OFN interventions within health systems and help facilitate contact and communication with participants,” the authors wrote. “These strategies can also help address low engagement in outpatient settings where patients might have sporadic clinic visits.”
ONS’s resources on financial and insurance issues can help oncology nurses understand the issues so they can best advise their patients and involve oncology financial navigation when available.