Key takeaways from the survey results include:
Americans place a high priority on quality healthcare and access to the full range of treatment options. At the same time, the poll shows that patients care about how much treatment will cost them, and want the ability to discuss cost issues with their physician.
- Patients want to understand the full range of treatment options available to them. When asked what topics patients want most to discuss with their providers, many patients (36 percent) responded that they want their providers to explain their options – higher than any of the other potential choices. Voters place a premium on understanding the full range of treatment options available to them.
- The poll also indicates that patients are not satisfied as passive participants in the treatment decision making process. Most of those polled (73 percent) wanted to be involved in choosing treatments for themselves rather than leaving the decision to their physician, highlighting the importance of developing decision-support tools designed for both providers and patients.
- Patients want to understand the cost of the treatment, and in particular the cost to them as a patient. Most of the individuals polled (81 percent) think it is extremely or very important for providers to discuss with patients the costs that the individual patient has to pay for treatment. Fewer than half of patients thought it was extremely or very important to discuss the costs of treatment to insurance companies, Medicare, or providers.
- Respondents continued to place the highest priority on high quality healthcare versus cost. A majority of those polled (65 percent) felt that ensuring that patients have access to the best available tests and treatments was a higher priority than cost, up from 56 percent in 2013. This reinforces the importance of ensuring, through thorough and transparent evaluation, that policies aimed at containing cost do not have the unintended consequence of impacting the quality of healthcare.
The poll also shows continued strong concern/opposition to use of comparative effectiveness research by policy-makers in ways that impose “one size fits all” treatment requirements or interfere with the provider-patient relationship.
- A strong majority of survey respondents (62 percent) continued to express support for an institute that conducts comparative effectiveness research and studies delivery systems when results are used to support and empower patient decision-making
- Patients feel it is very important to have an institute that conducts research on which tests and treatments are most effective. However, most respondents (69 percent) said that research should only be used to give doctors and patients more information about which options are right for each individual patient.
- At the same time, respondents express opposition to use of CER results in ways that could restrict access or impose “one size fits all” policies that limit treatment choices. Most of those polled (72 percent) oppose allowing Medicare to compare the efficacy of treatment options, and upon deeming them similarly effective, only cover the less-expensive option. This reinforces the importance of ensuring that decision-support tools and alternative payment models provide incentives to physicians to tailor care to an individual patient, rather than limiting access to treatments based on cost, or implementing a “cookbook medicine” approach to care.