A report from health insurance giant Aetna found that patients want communicative doctors who offer convenient appointments and that they put a high value on privacy and data security.
The study of 1,000 people also found that women are less likely to take their doctors’ recommendations or tell them about their lifestyle habits.
A physician survey of 400 doctors divided evenly between primary care and specialties also featured in the report. That poll found 54% of physicians said mental health counselors are very important, but only 7% said they have excellent access to that community resource.
The findings put further weight behind the idea that providers need to focus on patient conveniences like online and same-day scheduling, and can find improved patient engagement with value-based payment models.
Some 77% of respondents said it’s very important for their doctors to talk in an easy-to-understand manner, 66% want more convenient office appointments and 59% would like access to other healthcare professionals to coordinate care.
Women traditionally make a family’s healthcare decisions. Aetna's results show doctors need to figure out ways to better engage women, who "say they need more flexible, collaborative communication options with their doctors.”
The survey found that only 50% of women are very likely to take their doctors’ recommendations, which was below 61% of men. Aetna also found that just 70% of women tell their doctors of their lifestyle habits. That’s below 81% of men. Also, nearly one-third of men seek out doctors for general health questions, which was much higher than the almost one-fifth of women.
Beyond the gender differences, consumers surveyed believe privacy and data security are important parts of healthcare. The survey said 80% view privacy a a vital part of healthcare and 76% said the same for data security. Those figures were higher than for cost of care (73%), personalized care (71%) and coordination of care (68%).
Younger patients tend to value getting cost of care information from physicians. Aetna said 59% of people aged 18-34 want that information. That’s more than ages 35-50 (53%), 51-64 (48%) and 65 and over (38%).
Not surprisingly, Aetna found that younger consumers are more interested in digital tools to improve communication with providers. About a third of those aged 18-34 reported that digital messaging would be valuable compared to only 32% of people aged 65 and older. There was an even wider gap when it came to virtual office visits. The survey found that 35% of the 18-34 cohort said virtual office visits would be valuable compared to only 17% of people 65 and over.
These figures are much lower than a recent Accenture report, which found about 70% of consumers are interested in virtual healthcare despite only 20% receiving such care.
In the provider portion of the Aetna survey, doctors in value-based care models spoke of the benefits, namely having better access to community resources. The survey found that 65% of doctors in value-based care said they have very good or good access to social workers compared to 45% of those not in value-based care. Also, 61% of doctors in value-based care models said they have very good or good access to nutritionists. That’s compared to only 46% of physicians not in value-based care.
These results show one aspect of value-based care — focusing on social determinants of health — is working. A key tenet of using social determinants is setting up a system that helps patients beyond the doctor’s office. The Aetna survey showed doctors in value-based care are using community safety nets more than physicians not in value-based models.