Nearly 9 in 10 physicians feel unable to address chronic care patients' needs, study finds

Most primary care physicians said they do not have the necessary time or tools to address the needs of patients with multiple chronic conditions — leaving those patients to face health-related social and behavioral issues alone, according to research conducted by Quest Diagnostics.

The study gathered data from 801 respondents, including primary care physicians with Medicare patients diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions, and adults 65-plus with multiple chronic conditions. Respondents answered online surveys about their perceptions and experiences with chronic care and the care services used to manage chronic conditions.

Here are six report findings.

1. Nearly all physicians (95 percent) said they entered primary care as a way to care for the "whole patient." However, the vast majority (85 percent) said they lack proper time to address complex clinical issues, and 66 percent said they lack the time to address social and behavioral issues, including loneliness or financial concerns that may affect patients' health.

2. Only 9 percent of physicians reported feeling very satisfied that their Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions are receiving all the attention they need to care for their medical issues.

3. Although physicians expressed concern about gaps in care services, 92 percent of patients reported feeling satisfied that they are getting all the attention they need from their primary care physician to manage multiple medical issues.

4. The findings suggest patients may not recognize or communicate all of the health-related issues that may affect their care. Patients cited "getting another medical condition" (43 percent) as their No. 1 concern, followed by "being a burden on my loved ones" (32 percent). However, 2 in 5 patients say they do not talk with their physician about loneliness, isolation or transportation barriers.

5. The majority of physicians (88 percent) said they are concerned patients with multiple chronic conditions are not taking medications as prescribed.

6. Twenty-three percent of patients said they have forgotten to take some of their medications or have taken the incorrect medication — but only 8 percent of patients reported medication adherence as a concern.

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