While the healthcare sector has been resistant to change, we’re seeing signs that industry shifts may finally be underway, according to a new study.
To understand how this shakeup may impact patients and providers alike, Aetna fielded its inaugural Health Ambitions Study. The study shows that people are looking at their healthcare holistically and are seeking ways to improve well-being, including physical and mental health. In fact, nearly two-thirds (60%) of people say that if given an extra hour in the day, they would spend it on mental and physical activities.
“While the healthcare sector has been resistant to change, we’re seeing signs that industry shifts may finally be underway,” says Harold Paz, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Aetna. “The survey explores consumers’ health goals and preferences, as well as the patient-doctor relationship in the evolving healthcare landscape.”
According to the study, consumers desire increased flexibility, communication, and coordination from their doctors to achieve their health ambitions. Respondents say it’s very important that their doctors talk in a way they can easily understand (77%), have office appointments when they need them (66%) and offer access to other healthcare professionals to coordinate care (59%). Now more than ever before, patients are demanding greater transparency and support from providers to help them make health decisions.
“In addition, our study highlights that the health environment is undergoing a significant realignment and care delivery transformation focused on care for the whole person,” Paz says. “New models such as value-based care, in which doctors are rewarded for improving patient outcomes, are creating opportunities to do just that. For example, 70% of physicians in value-based care models always or often recommend that their patients set health goals, compared to 54% of physicians not in value-based care models.
The healthcare industry is transitioning to a consumer-centric model, and traditional organizations are facing competition from industries that are accustomed to providing better, more convenient customer service, according to Paz.
“In the midst of this change, providers—and their executives—will need to focus more on integrated, high-quality and convenient care or risk losing their patients to an organization that does,” he says.
The findings give an insightful perspective into how healthcare organizations can better address the health needs of consumers, according to Paz.
“The results reveal that physicians play a critical role in supporting patients’ holistic health goals,” he says. “People are not only looking to doctors to help when they’re sick, but also to provide support for their health and lifestyle habits.”
To illustrate, 72% cite annual check-ups as the top reason to communicate with their health provider, yet more than three quarters of consumers say it’s equally important that their physician be familiar with their mental health history (86%) and their ability to deal with stress (84%).
“The fact is that consumers want an interconnected, interdisciplinary healthcare system that allows them to easily communicate with their doctors and get access to the health services they need,” he says. For example, Aetna One Advocate program, provides a high-touch, personalized care and support service, backed by a dedicated, multidisciplinary team, that helps members achieve their health goals.
“Understanding patient preferences when it comes to their health and wellbeing is crucial to healthcare organizations delivering more personalized, consumer-centric care,” he says.