- Patients and providers are on the same page about what constitutes a quality healthcare experience, both stating that a strong patient-provider relationship is key, according to findings from the latest Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) consumer healthcare report.
The 2017 Consumer Health Care Priorities Study: What Patients and Doctors Want from the Health Care System report also showed that patients and providers agree that care coordination and evidence-based care guidelines are essential to a quality care experience.
The report includes responses from 11 patient and physician focus groups based in Colorado, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. These focus groups asked patients and providers what they wanted from the healthcare system, regardless of cost of services.
The focus groups revealed that the patient-provider relationship is the “single most important hallmark of quality care,” the report stated. Finding a provider who meets individual patient needs is part of building a quality provider relationship.
Patients are generally looking for a provider who is knowledgeable, listens to patient concerns, explains medical concepts clearly and in lay terms, and spends as much time as necessary during care encounters.
Patients and providers also agree that treatment should be evidence-based and should involve some level of shared decision-making between patient and provider, the report showed. However, when choosing between the two, patients said it was more important for a treatment to be proven effective through current research than to be aligned with patient preferences.
Care coordination also emerged as a common priority for both patients and providers, with both parties agreeing that care coordination can enhance the quality of care. Care coordination requires providers to work with all specialists involved with an individual’s care and that all stakeholders have access to an individual’s care.
Patients and providers disagreed about how care coordination can be best delivered, the report stated. Patients are more likely to believe that the EHR is a core tool in facilitating care coordination. The digital health record should allow providers across different specialties to access patient health data.
Providers do not see EHRs the same way. Instead of supporting care coordination and patient data exchange, EHRs are more commonly used for coding and billing, provider respondents said.
Following those top three agreed upon priorities, patients and providers begin to diverge. Patients prioritized facility quality, healthcare access, technology, and prevention services, in that order.
In contrast, providers prioritized prevention services, healthcare access, facilities, and technology.
Specifically, patients find prevention services an intrusive aspect of medicine, while providers find preventive care engagement as fundamental to chronic disease management and prevention.
CAPP leaders said industry experts must work to break down this wall between patients and providers, helping patients to understand the importance of preventive care.
“Given the US health care system is the most expensive in the world, expanding access to preventive care is necessary to keep our cost trends in check and to ensure that Americans live longer and healthier lives,” CAPP executive director Laura Fegraus said in a statement. “It is critical that communications between patients and physicians improve so that preventive care is viewed as a mission for all.”
With regard to healthcare access, physicians do not agree that they individually need to expand their office hours, provide non-conventional hours, or offer a 24-hour service line. Alternative treatment locations, such as retail clinics and urgent care centers, should be sufficient to fill care gaps during non-conventional office hours, clinician respondents said.
Patients expressed a preference for providers who make themselves available outside traditional work hours, however. Patient respondents value seeing their provider with whom they already have a relationship instead of a retail or urgent care clinic provider, the report said.
Additionally, patients and provider sentiment is mixed regarding how the two communicate using digital tools. While younger patients are more welcoming to digital communications, older patients still express a preference for face-to-face provider interactions.
Providers likewise have a tepid response to digital patient-provider communication. Providers are not convinced that patients need digital access to patient medical records via the patient portal. Patients in this survey also expressed skepticism about the quality impact of patient health data access.
These results show that healthcare and patient engagement technology still need time to sink in with patient populations. As these tools become more pervasive, patients will likely be poised to adopt, the report stated.
“The lack of experience with digital health may be due to patient trepidation with technology in health care,” Fegraus concluded. “The findings indicate that health care providers must encourage engagement in patient-centered ways while also expanding access to critical health care services.”