News Feature | January 1, 2015

Provider Perspectives On The Future Of Healthcare

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Pitfalls To Avoid In The Healthcare Market

A study reveals there are gaps in healthcare outlooks between providers and patients.

A study by Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs examining and comparing consumer and provider perspectives on healthcare in the U.S. has found that, while there is agreement on a number of issues, there are also significant gaps in outlook as well.

For the study, How We View Healthcare in America: Consumer and Provider Perspectives, the provider perspective was represented by primary care doctors, specialists, and administrators working in and out of hospital settings.

Three primary trends emerged from the study:

  • The future of healthcare is uncertain and creates anxiety among consumers and providers. And just one-third of consumer and administrators believe the healthcare system to be on the right track, while just one-quarter of PCPs and one in 10 specialists are of the same opinion. Significantly, most consumers and providers are not convinced that the ACA will positively impact the overall healthcare system, costs, and quality of care.
  • Addressing rising healthcare costs is paramount, but views differ over the best approaches. Even though large numbers of consumers and providers recognize the importance of prevention, it does not rank among the top healthcare priorities of either group. And while administrators are the leading advocates of a shift to prevention, they also prefer to embrace new trends which are seen with trepidation by physicians, including telemedicine, ACOs, and patient-centered medical homes.
  • Technology offers the path to better outcomes. Although current usage among patients is low, many providers use and encourage use by patients of technology to manage their healthcare, and most providers expect increased investment in Healthcare technology, while staffing growth will remain stagnant.

“This study was initiated to shed light on a basic issue: how consumers and providers perceive the future of healthcare,” says Grant McLaughlin, vice president at Booz Allen, in a press release. “What we found illustrates that both common ground and major gaps exist, calling for further examination. We’ll conduct the survey annually to stay abreast of these trends.”

The study also found two in five physicians recommend that their patients utilize apps, while only 22 percent of individuals who own a smartphone/tablet use those devices to manage their healthcare. Beyond that, there has also been a jump in the number of physicians using computers or mobile devices during patient visits, with one in five using a smartphone and one in six on a tablet.

A strong majority of providers foresee their practice or hospital investing more in IT over the next five years. The research was conducted among 1,000 consumers and 400 primary care providers, specialists and administrators.

The survey included 1,000 interviews of healthcare consumers over the age of 18, and 400 online provider interviews, including 100 primary care providers and 200 specialists, and 100 health system and hospital administrators. The data from PCPs and specialists were weighted to reflect the current balance between primary care and specialists in the U.S. healthcare system.

Ultimately, the study found, “While providers as a group share many similar views, data shows that administrators often have markedly different outlooks that primary care physicians and specialists. In many respects, these divergent views are aligned with helping their organizations not just survive changes in healthcare, but to thrive among them.”