KFF.org has an interesting article about a Morgan Hill, California hospital administrator retiree's quest for a non-surgical treatment for her osteoarthiritis. She enters the land of stem cell research by locating a patient-funded stem cell treatment option on clinicaltrials.gov. The rest of the article discusses the problem with non-disclosure of the significant patient costs, the phenomenon of funding health care needs on go fund me, and the general wide open nature of what can be posted as a clinical trial. These are all good points.
The part that caught my eye was when this former retired hospital administrator was reported to be surprised that the research program she located was consumer-funded after reading this:
The company, which describes itself as “the premiere leader in the United States for regenerative medicine,” says it offers a “a concierge approach to treatment,” which includes covering the cost of its patients’ hotel accommodations and a car service that “will be waiting for you at the airport baggage claim when you arrive.”
A retired hospital administrator who thinks a car service and baggage assistance as well as coverage for hotel accommodations are standard operating procedure for a clinical trial strains credulity. I understand that certain clinical trials involve incentives to participants but surely anyone from within hospital-land knows what a money maker it can be to treat osteoarthritis in well off populations. And that treatment, even when surgical, increasingly moves to out-patient settings, every hospital knows a significant adjustment to balance sheets lies ahead.