For patients with atopic dermatitis, access to dermatology care appears to be best in the West and poorest in the Midwest, shows a study looking at disparities in access to services across the United States published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment shows.1
Regular outpatient dermatology care is important for the management of atopic dermatitis as it can help prevent flares, which can require a patient to go to the emergency department.2 A variety of factors may impact access to ambulatory care for a patient with atopic dermatitis, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographical location.
“There is a critical gap in the knowledge regarding the geographic differences in healthcare resource use and cost of atopic dermatitis in the US,” writes study author April Armstrong, M.D. professor of dermatology and associate dean for clinical research at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “Determining these differences enables clinicians and policy makers to implement interventions and policies directed at improving access to care.”
Using data for 1996 to 2015 from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) database, a nationally representative survey of U.S. households administered by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Armstrong and colleagues quantified healthcare resource use (number of healthcare visits and medications provided to the patient) and the cost for atopic dermatitis patients in four census regions of the U.S.: West, South, Midwest, and Northeast.
In total, data on 6,348,578 atopic dermatitis were included. Across the entire U.S., the mean total healthcare costs per atopic dermatitis patient per year was $263. Patients made a mean of 0.71 ambulatory visits per year representing a cost of $121 per patient, and received a mean of 0.98 prescriptions per year, representing a cost of $76 per patient. Every year a mean of 4.8% patients made at least one visit to the emergency department for their atopic dermatitis which represented an average annual cost on average of $683 per patient per year for those attending.