- Growing patient financial responsibility and health costs are key concerns for patients, with 90 percent expressing worry about affording their own treatments, according to the 2017 Physicians Foundation Patient Survey.
The biennial survey of over 1,700 adult patients revealed that healthcare costs are becoming a major topic of conversation for patients. Eighty-nine percent of patients are worried about how rising healthcare costs are going to impact their health, with 56 percent expressing specific concern about growing prescription drug costs.
Increasing drug costs and limited affordability have had a negative impact on medication adherence, the survey revealed. Twenty-five percent of patients said they did not fill a prescription because of high costs, while 19 percent said they have skipped a dose of medication to save money.
Patients largely believe drug costs are increasing at the hands of pharmaceutical companies, with 88 percent reporting such. Twenty-four percent of patients said the absence of a free drug market caused high drug costs, while 23 percent said the same of medical fraud.
Patient concerns about healthcare costs go far beyond drug prices, the report showed. Fifty-seven percent of patients believe they are one sickness away from being in “serious financial trouble,” and three-quarters of respondents are concerned about their financial health if they should fall ill or get injured.
That number is up from 2016, where 62 percent of patients expressed worry should they need medical attention.
Aside from cost concerns, patients are generally pleased with their healthcare, although they have some apprehensions about the future. Ninety-five percent of patients are at least satisfied with their clinicians, and 64 percent said they are very satisfied.
Despite high patient satisfaction rates, patients are worried about the fate of their patient-provider relationships. Ninety percent of patients said a positive relationship with their clinicians is the most important factor in good healthcare, but the survey showed that those relationships don’t have time to develop.
Sixty-five percent of patients said they don’t have enough time with their clinicians, and about half of doctors said the same. Only 11 percent of patients and 14 percent of doctors said they have enough time with each other during appointments.
A mounting provider workload may be contributing to this problem. Just above 50 percent of both patients and providers said clinician workload is at full capacity, which can have negative consequences on the patient relationship and care access.
Additionally, patients do not feel providers have a strong enough voice in the healthcare industry. Eighty-seven percent of patients said doctors should have the loudest voice in treatment decision-making, but 69 percent of patients said it is in fact healthcare payers who have the loudest voice.
Forty-nine percent of patients think pharma companies have some say in treatment decisions, along with Congress (41 percent) and state governments (31 percent). Only 31 percent of patients think doctors are in charge of treatment decisions.
“This patient survey, now in its second edition, is designed to help us understand trends in care through the patient’s experience,” Physicians Foundation President Walker Ray, MD, said in a statement. “This year, the results have underscored the urgent need to amplify the physician’s voice. Supporting physician leadership has been and continues to be a major initiative for our Foundation. We feel it this work is central to helping physicians lead during these challenging times.”
Patients are also looking forward toward the value-based direction in which the industry is moving. Ninety-one percent of patients agree that all industry stakeholders should work together to address healthcare reform and to create a more navigable system.
Patients are also increasingly recognizing the impact the social determinants of health have on outcomes. Ninety percent of patients think doctors need to look at underlying patient needs to address health problems, and 87 percent acknowledged poverty’s adverse impact on patient health.
The general alignment between patient and clinician observation, as well as patient and clinician needs, outlines a path forward. Patients are recognizing the direction of healthcare and value-based care. Additionally, patients and providers alike are working to preserve their relationships and are calling on more opportunities to deliver high-quality and affordable treatments.