by Dhriti Vadlakonda
Many patients with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) face financial loss and bankruptcy due to costs of healthcare and unpredictable insurance coverage for treatments. Successful crowdfunding campaigns may ease or eliminate the burden of cumulative, expensive medical bills for patients.
The objective of this research was to comprehend how successful TMD patients are at fundraising efforts compared to patients with other diseases. In January 2021, a cross-sectional study of all publicly available crowdfunding pages was conducted, seeking posts on GoFundMe® related to TMD, Breast Cancer, Chronic Lyme Disease, Dementia, and Sickle Cell Disease. For each disease, the average and median  donation values across the campaign sample were calculated. The median value for the percent of goal achieved across the campaign sample was also calculated for each disease.
For the donation amounts, the lowest average value of $2,931 and the lowest median value of $1,500 across a 157 – campaign sample were associated with TMD. For the percent of goal achieved, the lowest median value of 13.7% across a 157– campaign sample was associated with TMD.
These findings yield important insights for medical professionals and researchers who seek to improve the quality of healthcare and lives of TMD patients. When working with TMD patients, it is essential to take into consideration the out-of-pocket costs associated with each treatment option as they are being discussed in order to prepare patients for possible cumulative expenses. These findings can also be utilized to raise awareness of the inadequate support that TMD patients receive on crowdfunding sites. Read full article here.
 Median refers to the mid-value in the list of donations with half the donations falling below and half above that value
About the Author
Dhriti Vadlakonda, a junior at River Hill High School in Columbia, MD, is passionate about eliminating health inequities faced by patients and improving the well-being of patient communities around the country. This year, Dhriti interned at the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Pharmacy under the mentorship of Dr. C. Daniel Mullins, the executive director of The PATIENTS Program, and Dr. Joseph Mattingly, the Director of Operations of The PATIENTS Program. After speaking to Mrs. Terrie Cowley about the devastating effects of TMD on patients’ everyday lives, including patients’ cumulative and burdensome expenses on treatments and surgeries, Dhriti was inspired to learn more about how successful TMD patients are at fundraising efforts compared to patients with other diseases. In January of this year, Dhriti conducted a cross-sectional study of all publicly available crowdfunding pages for posts related to TMD, Breast Cancer, Chronic Lyme Disease, Dementia, and Sickle Cell Disease on GoFundMe®. She found the lack of financial support that TMD patients received on the platform to be concerning. She hopes that her research can be utilized to raise awareness of the inadequate support that TMD patients receive on crowdfunding sites. An aspiring doctor, Dhriti has been delighted to learn so much about patient advocacy, health economics, and medical research throughout her internship and is very grateful for the TMJ Association and The PATIENTS Program for providing her with the opportunity to delve further into her medical passions.
About her Mentor
C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, is Professor and Chair of the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) Department at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He founded and is the Executive Director of the PATIENTS Program, which is a community-academic partnership which aims to bring the patient voice into research in order to make it more meaningful to patients. As a health economist, Dr. Mullins understands the negative impact that astronomical health care costs can have on a person’s wellbeing. Living in downtown Baltimore and spending a lot of time working with communities in low-income neighborhoods, he as seen the devastating impact of poor health and high costs on vulnerable populations. Having spoken on an FDA panel with Terrie Cowley, Dr. Mullins began to understand the financial impact of TMJ for those individuals who receive expensive surgical interventions that sometimes simply don’t solve the problem – or sometimes make the painful aspects of TMJ worse both physically and financially. As a professor, he enjoys mentoring anyone, from high school students such as Dhriti, to junior faculty in order to support the pipeline of future researchers and health care professionals who can solve the physical and financial aspects of medical conditions.