95% of patients satisfied with their primary care physicians, but many worried about healthcare costs

Doctor with patient
A new study shows the doctor-patient relationship is strong.

Here’s some great news for doctors: A new survey finds 95% of patients are satisfied with their primary care physicians.

However, both patients and doctors agree that they don’t have all the time they need together, according to a national survey (PDF) of 1,747 adults commissioned by The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower physicians. Only 11% of patients and 14% of physicians said they have enough time during visits.

That’s a significant challenge to providing high-quality care, when 90% of patients said the most essential piece of a quality healthcare system is a solid physician-patient relationship, the foundation noted in an announcement.

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The survey found patients are worried about rising costs and that increasing drug costs are the biggest pain point. Some 57% said they feel they are one sickness away from being in serious financial trouble and 75% are concerned with their ability to pay for medical treatment if they were sick or injured, up from 62% in 2016. A survey released earlier this year found a quarter of Americans have chosen to forgo medical care because of the costs.

They are also worried that insurance companies—not their doctors—are calling the shots when it comes to their healthcare. Some 69% of patients said insurance companies have the biggest influence on treatment options, but 87% said doctors should decide how medical conditions are treated.

An overwhelming majority of patients (90%) say as leaders of patient care, physicians’ voices should be front and center in discussions around healthcare access, cost and quality. Yet, a 2016 survey of physicians by the foundation found 59% of doctors said they have little ability to influence the healthcare system.

“This year, the results have underscored the urgent need to amplify the physician’s voice,” said Walker Ray, M.D., president of the foundation.

.Other survey highlights included:

  • 89% of patients are afraid that the rising cost of healthcare will adversely impact them in the future.
  • 59% say the cost of prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals directly contributes to rising healthcare costs.
  • 25% of patients said they did not fill a prescription and 19% have skipped doses of medication because of cost.
  • 88% said pharmaceutical companies and the way they price drugs are the main reason for rising costs, followed by absence of free markets (24%) and fraud (23%).

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