Let’s Talk About Money!
I am Dr. Jeff Kingsley and this is another edition of Riding in Cars With Researchers! Today we are going to talk about money or patient compensation. Did you know that when you participate in research trials, you are compensated for your time in a research trial? When you go to see your regular physician, you pay your physician. When you see a research physician, the research physician pays you. Not kidding. It’s one of the reasons why I love research. The model is flipped on its head. We get to spend more time with patients, we get to teach more, we get to deliver more comprehensive healthcare, and we pay the patients! Which is awesome!
The Balancing Act
So, what are the rules around that? It’s a balancing act between two things. First is coercion and second is respect for your time, travel, your actual costs, or what you are giving of yourself to be in a research trial. Research is very appropriately governed from an ethics perspective by groups that are called IRBs (Institutional Review Boards or Ethics Boards). And what they want to make sure is that we don’t compensate you so much that we are buying your time, or getting you into a research trial in a coercive way. And that’s appropriate – that’s reasonable. That is the limitation in what we can compensate you in a research trial. Now, what’s the flip side? You’ve heard me brag about how much healthcare we get to deliver in research. Well, let’s be real, delivering more healthcare also means we are taking more of your time. We don’t get to do more labs, EKGs, physical exams, and tests in less time than you would spend in a different practice setting. It’s more of your time, and your time costs something. If you have a long day in a research study and have a day off of work, that is a legitimate expense for you that we should be able to compensate in research. If you have to travel to a research site and be put up in a hotel, that’s a legitimate cost we should be able to compensate you for. We compensate patients for how much time you have to spend in the office with us, your travel, and we compensate for any other costs associated with participating in research. And that’s the balancing act between the two.
What does that typically look like? I don’t want to overstep my bounds and get too specific because I can get in trouble. But I want to share with you some parameters. A typical research trial, if you are in and out of the office, and not being asked to do too much, where we are compensating you for maybe an hour of your time, your travel time to the office, along with blood work and EKGs, typically you are reimbursed maybe $50. This would be for about 30-60 minutes of your time. We have research trials that are asking you to spend even more time getting multiple blood draws over the course of many hours, or maybe multiple lung function tests over the course of several hours. Those visits may pay several hundred dollars per visit. The reason I give you some sense of the dollars I’m talking about is that I don’t want you to think they are trivial. It’s real and it’s good compensation for your time and what you are giving of yourself to do this research. Again, it’s one of the reasons I love research because it gives those patients more respect that they deserve. You don’t show up at a research site and spend an hour sitting in the reception area as that is disrespectful. You show up and five minutes later you are escorted back and you’re spending time with the physician and coordinator, and you are getting things done. You are getting compensated for us to learn how to treat you better, how to treat patients for decades to come better than we are treating patients today. That’s the value of research.
Today we talked about patient compensation and patient compensation in research is really pretty awesome. The balancing act is between coercion and respect. We don’t want to coerce you, but we want to respect you, your time, your travel costs, and what you are actually giving of yourself.
Thanks for riding along!
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