September 26, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Stem cell treatment poll results: how repeat shots boost costs

stem cell treatment pollOne of the most common questions about stem cells is economic as patients ask about stem cell treatment cost. How much is the price tag? Empowered with information patients can start thinking like consumers and look out for their own interests more vigorously.

I’ve blogged and done polls before about how much patients self-report having paid per treatment, but another important factor needs to be part of this equation: how many stem cell treatments each patient gets.

For instance, if a patient reports paying $5,000 per treatment that may on its own send one kind of economic message, but on the other hand if they got 10 such treatments the cost would approach $50,000. Note that some clinics give discounts to repeat customers so it’s not always simple multiplication, but costs do ramp up with multiple therapies.

For this reason I recently did a poll (still open) asking people to indicate how many separate stem cell treatments that they’ve gotten. You can see an image of the current results of this poll at left. While the most common answer was “one” treatment, in total about 2/3 of respondents had received more than one treatment with the second most common answer being “two”. Interestingly, quite a few people appear to have gotten many treatments, with about one in eight respondents self-reporting 20 or more stem cell therapies. This not only amplifies cost, but also risks in my view.

Of course, internet surveys are usually not particularly scientific, but they can give a general snapshot of things, and if we crunch the numbers from this latest poll, the mean number of treatments was about two-to-three factoring in the percentages. If this is fairly accurate, then the average patient is paying about 2-3 times as much as was suggested in the older poll on cost per treatment.

There’s still also the question of whether certain clinics are properly informing patients that the typical customer gets (and pays for) multiple separate stem cell shots over a period of months or years.

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