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Provider, Patient Views Differ on Healthcare Cost, Tech Use

Patients and providers healthcare cost and tech use and adoption differently, showing a gap in expectations between both parties.

healthcare cost tech use

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Providers don’t always have a good grip on patient views, especially with regard to healthcare cost and technology use, according to a recent survey from Conduent Healthcare.

The survey of nearly 500 patients and 150 providers across the country showed that providers are not on the same page as patients when it comes to healthcare concerns, especially healthcare costs.

Provider respondents suggested that rising healthcare costs are the singular most pressing issue among patient populations, but patient respondents showed that is not in fact the case. Eighty-five percent of doctors said they think their patients have delayed or cancelled a doctor’s appointment due to cost, while only 48 percent of patients said that was the reality.

And while patients do care about cost – 63 percent said they consider cost before selecting a provider – it is not the sole deciding factor when choosing a new doctor. Patients also care about medication side effects, the necessity of the treatment, and the disease prognosis.

Providers also think patients need more assistance in paying their bills and fulfilling their financial responsibility than patients may actually need.

READ MORE: Patient, Provider Views Diverge on Consumer Centric Care Priority

Eighty-one percent of healthcare providers said they have discussed healthcare costs and payment with their patients, while only 32 percent of patients confirmed that they have had these discussions. Furthermore, 68 percent of providers said their patients need help understanding medical bills. In reality, only 22 percent of patients said they need medical bill assistance.

Likewise, patients and providers diverged somewhat with regard to health IT use in the changing healthcare landscape. While patients seem less enthusiastic about health IT use and adoption, providers are beginning to embrace the tools, albeit at a modest rate.

Seventy-one percent of both patients and providers said they understand how health IT can improve health outcomes, but neither party has adopted technology at an impressive rate.

Patients, for example, have given a tepid reception to typical health technologies. Only 29 percent of patients have used mHealth apps, 42 percent have used fitness tools, and only 31 percent have used telemedicine.

Eighty-six percent of patients said they see the value in using the patient portal, but only 37 percent have adopted the tool.

READ MORE: Patients Prioritize Costs, Convenience when Selecting Docs

Although more providers than patients have begun integrating technology into their workflows, provider, too, haven’t shown overwhelming health IT adoption. Forty-four percent of providers have used telemedicine, but only 20 percent have prescribed an mHealth app to their patients.

About half (49 percent) of providers use patient portals even though 76 percent think the tool is valuable.

Going forward, few patients and providers are interested in adopting health technologies. Only up to one-quarter of providers expressed enthusiasm for a health technology – tools connecting patients with emergency medical information.

Patients offered a warmer reception to proposed health technologies, with up to 36 percent of patients expressing interest in tools that help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Despite lack of alignment related to healthcare costs and technology use, patients and providers did agree on one healthcare trend: bad lifestyle habits are getting in the way of patients taking control of their own health. Eating habits, smoking, and missing regular doctors’ visits are major detriments to patient engagement, both parties said.

READ MORE: Patient Satisfaction and HCAHPS: What It Means for Providers

Twenty six percent of all respondents – 28 percent of providers and 25 percent of patients – said that bad habits are keeping patients from taking care of themselves. Forty-six percent of respondents said lack of exercise was a pressing bad habit, alongside poor eating habits (40 percent), and smoking (20 percent).

A similar number of patients and providers also thought other reasons, including busy schedules and lack of healthcare self-efficacy, got in the way of patients managing their own health.

Although patients and providers both agreed that bad habits get in the way of patient health, providers tend to think patient habits are a bigger problem than patients do. Sixty-seven percent of providers think poor eating habits get in the way of patient health, while only 40 percent of patients feel the same.

More providers than patients also think that lack of exercise, delaying trips to the doctor, smoking, medication mismanagement, and drinking contribute to poor patient health.

Twenty percent of patients said that none of those bad habits limit patient health.

This survey helps underscore the differences in how patients and providers perceive the healthcare industry at large. Going forward, healthcare professionals must work to close these chasms and put patients and providers on the same page.

Healthcare providers who understand how patients perceive the healthcare industry and what patients need from the industry will better be able to serve these patients, ultimately leading to stronger patient-provider relationships.

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