Challenges, optimism in healthcare: 7 key points from consumer, provider perspectives

Although the majority of patients, physicians and administrators do not think the U.S. healthcare system is on the right track, there is growing optimism about the future of healthcare among certain subgroups, such as younger physicians and administrators, according to a report from Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs.

The report, called, "How We View Health Care in America: Consumer and Provider Perspectives," assesses healthcare consumers' and providers' current perception and future outlook on healthcare. The annual survey includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. adults and more than 400 healthcare providers.

Here are seven key points from the report.

1. Consumer satisfaction is directly impacted by access. Most consumers (67 percent) are currently satisfied with their personal healthcare. The lowest levels of satisfaction were indicated by those who are underinsured (32 percent), have no personal physician (33 percent) or have not visited a physician (29 percent). The type of insurance coverage consumers have also contributed to satisfaction. The highest levels of satisfaction were indicated by Medicare beneficiaries and those who see a physician and/or a specialist frequently.

2. Optimism is improving. On the provider side, health system administrators and managers have become more optimistic, with 43 percent believing the healthcare system is on the right track, compared to 34 percent in 2014. Specialists have also conveyed a more positive outlook; 16 percent today believe healthcare is on the right track compared to just 10 percent in 2014, while 24 percent of primary care physicians share this view (the same proportion as in 2014).

3. Physicians and hospital administrators have diverging outlooks. Administrators' outlooks are far more optimistic than those of physicians in several areas. For instance, while 83 percent of physicians think they are rapidly losing autonomy, 51 percent of administrators agree with that view.

4. All sides agree coordination of care is essential. More than half of consumers (52 percent) and providers (72 percent) agree that improved coordination of care and information sharing between numerous providers can have a significant impact on healthcare. Although they have concerns regarding information security, 58 percent of consumers approve of their physicians sharing their personal health information to better coordinate care.

5. Gaps in health app utilization exist. Seventy-nine percent of consumers own a smart phone or tablet, but only 29 percent use a mobile app or personalized interactive website to monitor or manage their health. Younger consumers use technology for healthcare more often than older people, though all consumers access general health references at roughly the same rates. Another exception is those who are 65 years of age and older use technology to access prescription drug references more often (59 percent) than other age groups (40 percent). There is also a gender gap: men are more likely than women to use apps or interactive website to access health information.

6. Providers and consumers share positive thoughts on prevention. Age and other factors contribute to varying perceptions about preventive interventions. In general, consumers and providers agree aggressive disease screening and greater coordination of care between healthcare providers as the most promising approaches.

7. Physicians are moving toward the patient-centered medical home model. One-third of physicians responding to the survey said they were either part of a PCMH (16 percent) or moving toward a PCMH model (16 percent). Those who work in a PCMH conveyed a more optimistic outlook on the current direction of healthcare than those who do not.

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