The Affordable Care Act focuses on expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. Americans while getting enrolled in specific health benefit plans and choosing physicians, must consider whether the physician will be able to provide high-quality care.
Often, when it comes to defining a quality healthcare provider there is considerable difference between how experts and consumers actually define it. Being licensed doesn’t necessarily mean that a doctor is capable and up-to-date on all best practices.
A new poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that Americans do not think that information about the quality of healthcare providers is easy to come by and they lack trust in information sources that tend to produce such quality indicators. It was found that most people focus on the doctor – patient relationship and interactions in the physician offices and very few of them think about the effectiveness of treatments or their own health outcomes.
The United States spends at least two and a half times more on healthcare than most developed countries across the globe. Reports suggest that they forego 30% of the care recommended to prevent or treat common conditions. Moreover, lots of unneeded medical testing and outmoded or inappropriate therapies are also undergone.
The survey was conducted to better understand the Americans’ perception about quality provider (their meaning of provider quality, how information is accessible, how much they trust such information and the link between provider quality and cost). As part of the study, interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults aged 18 years and above. Other key findings of the survey include:
- About 6 out of 10 people said that they trusted doctor recommendations from family or friends and about half consider referrals from their regular physician. It was found that very less number of people believe details generated from online patient reviews, website ratings, health insurers, media and government.
- More than half of Americans consider that top quality healthcare comes at a higher cost and are willing to pay higher amount for quality physicians. On the other hand, 37% says that there is no direct association between quality and cost.
- Consumers agree that requiring doctors to report the effectiveness of their treatments and patient satisfaction with care would enhance the quality of care provided in the US.
By the end of 2014, Medicare plans to release quality measurements for about 160 large group practices and information on smaller clinics along with patient feedback. It is expected that this major move would improve care quality as doctors need to publicly report their patient health outcomes and level of satisfaction.
When it comes to choosing a provider, consumers weigh a number of factors. Majority of people rate the quality of care provided as a prominent factor. About 1 in 5 Americans recall comparing the quality of providers during the previous year. About 8 out of 10 consider doctors experience with a particular medical procedure, treatment or surgery in their choice. Some of the other important factors considered are –
- Board certification of the doctor along with other additional training and testing in their area of specialty
- Total time to get an appointment
- Total time spent with each patient
- Ratings on patient review websites or local media
- Patient rating on provider communication
- Length of time in the waiting room
- If prescribed treatments are effective
- Helpful staff
- Convenient hospital location
- Comparison of charges from other providers
- Bedside manner (impression in face-to-face meeting)
- Any disciplinary action or malpractice suit charged against the doctor
While making an analysis of the total number of people covered by a health benefit plan, nearly 88% say that whether or not a provider accepts their insurance is an extremely crucial factor in their choice of physicians.
Despite the fact that an increased number of Americans are getting insured as a result of the ACA, those without insurance coverage face more challenges in finding details about provider quality and cost. Simultaneously, they are more likely than the insured to think that public reporting of such information would improve the overall quality of care offered.