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Consumers’ top 4 concerns about their physicians


A Physicians Foundation survey gives healthcare executives behind the scenes insight into the physician-patient relationship.

There’s a critical need for the physician to be at the forefront in discussions around healthcare access, cost and quality, according to a new survey.

Related: Five ways healthcare executives can better support physicians

The Physicians Foundation commissioned a survey of healthcare consumers to evaluate their attitudes on four major areas: the physician-patient relationship, the cost of healthcare, social determinants and lifestyle issues.

The survey was conducted among 1,747 U.S. respondents between the ages of 27 and 75 years who have seen the same doctor at least twice in the past 12 months. Data were weighted by age, income, gender and region to reflect a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents between the ages of 27 and 75 years.

Top concerns among consumers

The findings show that the overwhelming majority of patients (95%) are satisfied with their primary care physicians, but they express a number of concerns:

1.   Nine in 10 patients say physicians and patients create a true partnership that represents the most essential element of a quality healthcare system, but only 11% believe they have all the time they need with their physician.

2.   Ninety percent of consumers say the physician’s voice must be front and center in discussions around healthcare access, cost and quality. However, 69% of consumers believe that insurance companies have the greatest influence in impacting treatment options for medical conditions.

3.   Eighty-two percent of patients believe all doctors should provide access to EHRs, but are still wary that technology can detract from patient care. Fifty-seven percent say physicians rely more on what the computer tells them and less on what the patient tells them during an exam, and 77% wish their physician would listen more.

4.   Most healthcare consumers (89%) are fearful that the rising cost of healthcare will adversely impact them in the future. In particular, concerns around the cost of drugs, continue to grow. Eighty-eight percent of consumers feel pharma companies and the way they price drugs is the main reason for rising healthcare costs. One in four patients surveyed said they did not fill a prescription and 19% have skipped doses of their medicine due to costs. 


“Cost has the potential to interfere with the physician-patient relationship because consumers feel they’re unable to comply with all the prescribed treatment methods,” says Walker Ray, MD, president of the Physicians Foundation.

There was an increase in the number of consumers who believe they can’t afford treatment (35% in 2017 versus 28% in 2016), potentially putting strain on the physician-patient relationship.

“Physicians can remedy this by acting as advocates on behalf of their patients to ensure their treatment is of the best quality and is as cost-effective as possible,” Ray says.

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