As a healthcare clinician, helping distressed patients manage the financial burden of IBS can be just as complex as treating their symptoms. Here’s one evidence-based way to help your patients halve their IBS-related costs.
A multi-billion dollar burden
“It turns out that IBS is one of the leading causes of work absenteeism, second only to the common cold,” said gastroenterologist Dr. Bill Chey from the University of Michigan.
Researchers reported that the annual toll of IBS, which combines direct medical expenses with productivity losses due to work absenteeism, amounts to a staggering $21 billion USD.
Annual costs are substantially higher for those with severe gastrointestinal symptoms and comorbid depression, and as the number of psychological comorbidities increases, the severity of IBS symptoms intensifies.
Those trapped in this cycle and grappling with greater co-occurring comorbidities are also more likely to seek costly medical help and report pervasive disruptions in their daily activities.
The global scarcity of trained GI psychologists adds to the difficulty of managing complex IBS patients. Dr. Megan Riehl recently estimated that there are only 400 of these professionals like herself in the world to address this critical need.
Halving the cost of care
Dr. Simone Peters from Monash University agrees that the economic repercussions of IBS are considerable when it encompasses healthcare system costs, direct symptom management expenses, clinical consultations, and the ripple effects of diminished productivity and absenteeism at work.
But there is hope. At the most recent Digestive Disease Week (DDW), Dr. Peters’ demonstrated that a digital therapeutic program like Nerva has the potential to slash the long-term costs linked to IBS management by around 50%, while simultaneously enhancing patients' work performance and curbing absenteeism.
In her research, Dr. Peters assessed the economic outcomes of six weeks of digital gut-directed hypnotherapy for 4,200 patients.
Her research demonstrated how app-delivered gut-directed hypnotherapy is more cost-effective and accessible than face-to-face therapy and can lead to better symptom management and psychological outcomes.
She found that money spent on managing IBS symptoms reduced from a baseline of $1,259 USD to $644 USD after six weeks of Nerva.
This trend persisted, with IBS-related expenditures stabilizing at $502 USD.
Beyond financial alleviation, these IBS patients reported sustained improvements in absenteeism, presenteeism, work productivity, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Dr. Peters' breakthrough findings also illuminated the transformative potential of digital therapeutics for IBS, not only in terms of cost reduction but also in restoring patients' quality of life.
As healthcare professionals on the frontlines of IBS care, embracing these insights could mark a pivotal step towards empowering patients with a more accessible, cost-effective, and holistic approach to managing their condition.
How to pass along cost-conscious care
If you have patients who feel like effective IBS care is financially out of reach, contact us for more information about our compassionate access licenses. Plus, make sure you’ve registered with our Connect clinician portal, which offers all of your patients 25% off a yearly subscription to the Nerva program.