Insights From The Physicians Foundation Survey Shows Majority of Consumers Feel Negative About Future of U.S. Healthcare System
Boston, MA, October 17, 2012— Seventy-nine percent of consumers who visited their family doctor or primary care physician (PCP) at least once in the past year said they were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the visits, according to a new consumer survey by The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients.
The survey, conducted online for The Physicians Foundation by Harris Interactive in July 2012, surveyed more than 2,200 adults 18 years of age and over in the U.S., with more than 1,800 indicating that they have a family physician or PCP.
Survey respondents, who visited their doctors an average of 3.5 times in a 12 month time period, cited factors related to personalized care, time spent with their doctors and empathy as the main drivers for overall satisfaction. Specifically, respondents made such statements as “he / she cares about my health” and “he / she takes time to listen to me and address my concerns.” Similarly, physicians also expressed the critical importance of the physician-patient relationship, with 80 percent of physicians indicating that the patient relationships are the number one most satisfying aspect of practicing medicine, according to a separate study of nearly 14,000 U.S. physicians the Foundation released last month.
“The cultivation of the patient-physician relationship remains one of the single most important aspects of delivering the highest quality of care to our patients,” said Walker Ray, M.D., vice president of The Physicians Foundation and chair of its Research Committee. “As regulatory and marketplace forces continue to alter the healthcare system, it is essential that these changes do not disrupt the strong bond between patients and their doctors.”
Despite the high level of satisfaction with their physicians, consumers are considerably more pessimistic about the direction of healthcare. A majority of respondents (53 percent) are negative about the future of healthcare in the U.S., versus 22 percent who are positive. This level of pessimism is consistent across demographics, but is particularly noticeable among females (53 percent negative versus 19 percent positive) and those 55 years of age and older (60 percent negative versus 22 percent positive).
“Patients and physicians share strong concerns about the future of the U.S. healthcare system,” said Lou Goodman, Ph.D., president of The Physicians Foundation and CEO of the Texas Medical Association. “Our recent survey of nearly 14,000 physicians found that only 23 percent of physicians are somewhat or very optimistic about the future of the medical profession. Considering that both patients and physicians are expressing such a startling level of frustration and uncertainty about the health system, more needs to be done to ensure the sustainability and access of quality patient care in America.”
Consumers are also pessimistic about insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Approximately three-quarters of respondents who have a family doctor or PCP said that insurance companies and pharmaceutical / drug companies are “very” or “completely responsible” for rising healthcare costs, and more than half (55 percent) feel the insurance companies are negatively impacting the quality of care.
Other leading factors consumers contributed to rising healthcare costs include:
- “People’s failure to take responsibility for their health” (64 percent)
- “The cost of malpractice insurance” (62 percent)
- “The government” (59 percent)
- “Hospitals” (53 percent)
The complete report can be accessed here.