A survey conducted by the health insurance group Aetna asked consumers question about their attitudes to healthcare, their relationships with their providers, and what they think are the most important aspects of healthcare.
The Health Ambitions Study was sent to 1,000 consumers aged 18 and over, with a corresponding survey conducted on 400 physicians – 200 primary care doctors and 200 specialists.
The consumer survey found that consumers are paying attention to their healthcare. Most pay attention to holistic health and look for resources that support better health and wellbeing. 60% of respondents to the survey said that if they were allocated an extra hour each day they would spend it doing activities that improved their health or mental health. 67% of women and 44% of men would spend the hour on these activities.
Less women thought that their physicians comprehended their health needs than men. 65% of women and 80% of men said their doctor is aware of their health goals. Women find it harder than men to speak with their physicians about their lifestyle habits (70% vs 81%) and women were much less likely than men to take their doctor’s counsel. Only 50% of women said they would be most probably take their doctor’s advice compared with 81% of men.
Aetna President Karen Lynch said: “Women are often the primary caregiver for their families.” So, when it comes to health and lifestyle goals, women are in need of additional support to feel confident in their health decisions for themselves and others.
One of the chief areas where improvements are seen to be needed are cutting stress levels – a major goal for 45% of women and 28% of men – and getting assistance with mental health issues – enhancing mental health was a major goal of 36% of respondents.
70% of patients said they would like their physicians to speak to them in language that they can easily understand, 66% want to be able to get in person appointments when they need them, and 66% want access to other healthcare professionals to help manage their care.
Providing digital health services is important for patients, especially the younger generation. 35% of respondents under the age of 35 said digital messaging would be useful and 36% said they would like the option of having virtual office visits. The same percentage said telehealth would be useful. Digital messaging would also be important to older patients, with 32% of over 65s saying the service would be useful. Only 17% of patients in that age range thought they would prosper from virtual office visits and just 14% would benefit from telehealth.
Consumers were asked about their biggest worries regarding healthcare, and while rising health care costs are an issue, the cost of healthcare was not the biggest worry for consumers. Patient privacy and data security were more important to consumers than the expense of healthcare.
80% said patient privacy is very important, 76% of consumers rated data security as very important, and 73% rated the cost of health care as very important. Patient privacy was more crucial for women (84%) than men (71%). Women were also more worried than men about data security (80%/66%). Getting personalized care was rated as very important by 71% of those who answered the survey question, and coordination among healthcare providers was very important for 68% of patients.
The survey on physicians showed only 50% of physicians felt that mental health counselors were important for patients, substance abuse counselors were only seen as important by 41% of physicians, 37% said nutritionists were important, 35% said social workers were important, and only 32% said in-home aids and liaisons are rated as important.
Providers involved in value-based care models had better access to these healthcare professionals. For instance, 61% of physicians in value-based care models had good or very good access to nutritionists as opposed to 46% of physicians who were not in value-based care models.