Healthcare Execs Worry About Variability in the Healthcare System

November 26, 2019

A new survey reveals attitudes around healthcare from key stakeholders in the industry.

A new survey reveals attitudes around healthcare from key stakeholders in the industry.

Mending HealthCare in America 2020: Consumers & Cost,” of nearly 2,000 doctors, nurses, consumers and hospital execs, from Wolters Kluwer Health, showed alignment and deep divisions in how patients and providers view healthcare. The survey aimed to find out attitudes around healthcare from key stakeholders in the industry. This includes how they feel about risk, care variability and what needs to be done in the next few years to improve care and consumer trust.

“With the next presidential election a year away, healthcare is going to be top of mind for many,” says Peter Bonis, MD, chief medical officer, Clinical Effectiveness, Wolters Kluwer, Health. “We also conducted this survey to find out how consumer attitudes aligned with providers and hospital executives-to see if they had similar priorities and feelings about the ever-changing industry.”

“It also found that consumers are savvy about healthcare-98% of people surveyed agree that there are substantial differences in costs and how care is delivered-and that’s a national problem,” “They are also cost conscious, and will forgo treatments or buying prescriptions if it is too expensive.” 

Healthcare executives have been hard at work trying to reduce margin pressures across a range of areas,” Bonis says. “This survey gives healthcare executives a view into what consumers are seeking. Since the industry is transforming to be more consumer-centric, it’s vital to hear where there is common ground-and where there is work to be done.

Executives may also discover that care costs may affect treatments patients are receiving more than they realize, according to the survey. Seventy-nine percent of physicians and nurses said the price of a treatment can impact what they recommend for patients.

“Experience with payer denials over time as well as patients’ social determinants of health can lead them to recommend less costly treatments,” Bonis says. “More affordable treatments might also aid in reducing patient nonadherence.”

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The survey also found that nearly everyone acknowledges variability in care is a big problem.

“It’s up to healthcare executives to ensure their teams are aligned and using the same evidence-based guidance, to support consistent outcomes,” Bonis says. “Consumers know this too and we’re seeing the rise of a “commuter patient”-four in five said they are willing to travel to a better hospital farther away if it has a better reputation.”

On the technology front, the survey found that healthcare executives are bullish on the importance of technology investments. Seventy-nine percent reported the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other tech advancements are key to improving care through better decision making.

“Keeping up with new health tech such as AI also ranked near the top of strategic technology priorities for execs,” he says. “Interestingly, consumers were more anxious, with nearly half [49%] uncomfortable with AI being used in their care. So that is an unexpected perception issue to anticipate.”

Generational divide

There is a generational divide in how consumers make decisions about care, according to the survey. It found that 61% of millennials surveyed said they did not move forward with a medical treatment because they were concerned about cost. As a point of contrast, that was nearly double the number of baby boomers.

“While millennials may generally be younger and healthier, they are cost-savvy when it comes to healthcare, like many other parts of their lives,” Bonis says. “Therefore, they are choosing carefully what to spend their money on-and their health might suffer because of it. We also found that healthcare is going to continue to be top of mind when voters hit the polls next year.”

Seventy-three percent of people said healthcare will be a main factor when choosing who they will vote for president. Further-89% of consumers say the entire healthcare system needs an overhaul-no matter who wins.