NEW YORK, NY (Marketwire – January 19, 2011)
Patients are placing a high premium on the ability to predict their future health, even if they have to pay out of pocket to get it. According to a survey by Tufts Medical Center, nearly 76% of patients said they would take a hypothetical predictive test to find out if they are at risk for a variety of diseases like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, breast or prostate cancer. “This study helps doctors understand patients’ motives in getting a diagnostic test, even if it has no impact on subsequent treatment,” says Dr. David Samadi, a robotic prostatectomy, robotic surgery, and prostate cancer treatment expert, as well as Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Published in the journal Health Economics, the study examined respondents’ willingness to undergo and pay for hypothetical predictive laboratory tests that would have no direct treatment consequences. Researchers found that respondents were willing to pay $300 to $600, depending on the disease and accuracy of the test, for this “value of knowing.” Even if the tests were not completely accurate, they were still willing to undergo and pay for the test.
Of 1,463 respondents, 87% were willing to be tested for prostate cancer, immediately followed by breast cancer (81%), arthritis (79%), and Alzheimer’s disease (72%). Respondents were happy to pay $600 for a prostate cancer test. Income level and type of disease type have an impact on willingness to pay. Obviously those with higher incomes were more willing to pay out of pocket, but interestingly, so were those seeking tests for breast and prostate cancer.
Respondents who did not want to take the test expressed concerns with the cost of the test, knowing the risks of their disease and not having adequate preventive measures. The tests had positive effects on future behavior. Respondents with positive test results indicated they would spend more time with loved ones (51%), put their finances in order (48%), or travel more (31%). “The value of knowing is truly priceless when it comes to trying to change the outcome based on the knowledge that’s been obtained,” said Dr. Samadi.
Additionally, Dr. Samadi believes the study holds promise because it can help medical authorities create policies and make informed decisions on coverage and reimbursement. Samadi, a robotic surgery expert with over 3,100 successful operations to his credit, said, “Most importantly, we can effectively address patients’ preferences and allocate the appropriate resources, because we will know the risks, costs and values of these tests.”
Dr. Samadi advised that the next steps should be cautious ones, specifically because of the costs and risk involved with these tests. “Since the tests have a clear-cut benefit to predict the possibility of disease, the study effectively shows how many people value information, because of the effect it will have on their lifestyle and behavior choices,” he said.
Dr. David B. Samadi