The recent introduction of direct acting antivirals for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) has dramatically improved treatment options for HCV infected patients. However, in the United States (US) treatment uptake has been low and time to initiation of therapy has been long. We sought to examine provider perspectives of facilitators and barriers to HCV treatment delivery.
From June to August 2019, we conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with medical staff providing HCV care as part of a university medical center in Los Angeles, CA. In order to understand the HCV treatment process, we interviewed key staff members providing care to the majority of HCV patients seeking care at the university medical center, including hepatologists and infectious disease specialists as well as key nursing and pharmacy staff. The interviews focused on workload and activities required for HCV treatment initiation for non-cirrhotic, treatment naïve patients.
Providers noted that successful HCV treatment delivery was reliant on a care model involving close collaboration between a team of providers, in particular requiring a highly coordinated effort between dedicated nursing and pharmacy staff. The HCV care team overwhelmingly reported that the process of insurance authorization was the greatest obstacle delaying treatment initiation and noted that very few patient level factors served as a barrier to treatment uptake.
In the US, prior authorization for HCV treatment is a requirement for most public and private insurance plans. In an era with access to therapies that allow for a cure-and until revocation of prior authorization for HCV treatment is a reality-implementing strategies that can expedite authorization to accelerate treatment access are critical. Not only will this benefit patients, but it has the potential to help expand treatment to settings that are otherwise too resource strained to successfully deliver HCV care.