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Vol 25, No. 02, February 2021   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
Breaking down Barriers to Access of Treatment for Patients
Axios International announced the development of the Patient Financial Eligibility Tool (PFET) as a sustainable approach to alleviate the costs borne by patients through the determination of how much a patient can contribute without any economic distress.

Affordability has become a significant barrier to treatment, especially when patients have to bear the cost of innovative medicine. As such, increasing access to treatment in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) calls for a sustainable access model to address more than short term needs. Healthcare access company Axios International has devised a sustainable approach to alleviate the costs borne by patients through the determination of how much a patient can contribute without any economic distress.

At the 6th International Conference on Public Health 2020 (ICOPH 2020), Dr Joseph Saba, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Axios International shared, “Effectively determining patients’ ability to contribute to their treatment costs may allow subsidy funds to be used more effectively, and provide more patients with access to a full course of medical therapy in a sustainable approach.”

Axios International has created a novel multilateral index in 2007, known as the Patient Financial Eligibility Tool (PFET), that combines income, asset and standard of living (SoL) data to capture informal/cash economies, for a multi-dimensional appraisal of a patient’s economic status. The tool accurately assesses an individual’s financial situation, allowing for patients to pay for only what is affordable, while major healthcare stakeholders like pharmaceutical companies, insurance firms and government bodies contribute to fill the gaps — maximising medical benefit. In contrast, donation programs only address short-term needs.

Research has shown that in LMICs, 50 to 90 percent of the population have to pay for medicines out of pocket rendering treatment unaffordable for the wider population. To further ensure the PFET is adapted in variation according to the local country context, and to maintain efficacy and accuracy, a clustering analysis was conducted in 2019 to understand how key determinants of PFET vary according to country. It was established that there are country-specific differences between economic indicators of income, assets, SoL and the overall economic status of a patient. It is therefore vital to utilize multiple indicators as well as to tailor them accordingly, to accurately determine the economic factors in each respective country.

Presenting the study at the conference, Dr Joseph Saba also shared, “The PFET is a versatile tool that helps us to accurately gauge a patient’s ability to pay, which will help us to properly allocate resources and increase efficiency even in the long run.”

As of 2019, the PFET has been adapted to 20 LMICs for 57 medicines prescribed in the fields of chronic diseases including cancer, aiding greatly in the effective use of subsidy funds, ensuring continuity of treatment and increasing access to prescription medication for more patients.

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