Survey Says: Physicians Believe Other Parties Bear Equal Responsibility for Reform

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HC_Reform-thumb3As healthcare reform is rolled out, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the details and demands that are being placed on hospitals at ever-increasing speeds and volumes. Sometimes, however, the opinions of the providers are drowned out in the cacophony of deadlines and upgrades and political wrangling that reform has wrought.

So, let’s stop for a second and ask: What do the physicians think of these changes and how their ability to provide care is being affected?

According to Alvin Tran at Kaiser Health News, a recent survey from the American Medical Association says that physicians feel that other parties—such as hospitals, drug makers, insurance companies, lawyers, and patients—bear just as much of a responsibility for making sure reform is a success as the physicians do.

According to the article, the survey of 2500 randomly selected physicians revealed “59 percent of doctors believed they have some responsibility in holding down healthcare costs. Only 36 percent thought they have a major role… More than half of doctors, however, said each of five other groups carry ‘major responsibility.’”

These physicians were also asked about which areas of healthcare reform they think are most beneficial, and the majority was in agreement with the emphasis being placed on quality and efficiency of care, with 98 percent expressing enthusiasm “about efforts to promote care coordination for people with chronic diseases,” Tran writes.

Furthermore, the majority of those surveyed wholeheartedly endorsed evidence-based practices, such as “efforts to prevent corporate influence of physicians’ decisions and promoting head-to-head trials of competing treatments.”

One element of reform with which they don’t agree is the way in which payment models are being reworked. No more than 33 percent were on board with any of the changes, and a paltry seven percent embraced a value-based model.

The majority of physicians, nearly 80 percent, placed patient interests above healthcare cost reductions. Tran reports, “Only 16 percent of the doctors said they agreed that they ‘should sometimes deny beneficial, but costly services to certain patients because resources should go to other patients that need them more.’ At the same time, nearly one in nine of the doctors said they need to take ‘a more prominent role’ in limiting unnecessary tests.”

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jon Tilburt, associate professor at the Mayo Clinic, said, “What physicians are trying to tell us is that they don’t see themselves as necessarily any more responsible for healthcare costs than all of those stakeholders. They see themselves as a contributor, not a main contributor.”

As healthcare leaders, how do you feel about this survey? Do you think these providers have a point and maybe too much of healthcare reform is being placed on their shoulders? What is your opinion about patient care vs. healthcare cost reduction?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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