American patients satisfied but worried about healthcare

March 21, 2012

Your patients are likely among the most satisfied patients in the world, but are not more likely to view America's healthcare system among the best globally, according to the results of a consumer survey released on March 13.

Your patients are likely among the most satisfied patients in the world but are not more likely to view America’s healthcare system among the best globally, according to the results of a recently released consumer survey.

The survey, conducted by marketing research and consulting firm HawkPartners LLC, asked thousands of patients around the world about their perceptions of various healthcare providers and institutions, their most pressing healthcare needs, the quality of their country’s healthcare system, and their beliefs about their country’s healthcare future.

The study’s U.S. findings reveal a dichotomy between patients’ satisfaction and future outlook.

U.S. patients express more contentment with their country’s healthcare system than patients from any of six others countries studied: Brazil, China, India, Japan, Germany, and Russia. Seventy-seven percent of American respondents reported being satisfied.

Despite that perception, U.S. patients are split evenly about whether the country’s healthcare system will decline or improve in the next 5 to 10 years.

“The debate over universal coverage, and the widespread media exposure it generated, shows that there are fresh doubts about the future quality of American healthcare,” said Scott Berman, president of HawkPartners and leader of the firm’s healthcare practice, in a statement. “This is despite the fact that the U.S. leads the world in healthcare innovation and spends more per patient than any other country.”

The survey results also show that U.S. patients’ perceptions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and hospitals are the most positive. Doctors rate the highest, at 88 degrees out of 100, on the survey’s “temperature scale.” Ratings of pharmaceutical companies, insurers/payers, and government are below the 75-degree average, with the government bottoming out at 54 degrees.

Patients in developing countries rate pharmaceutical manufacturers higher on most attributes than patients in other countries, both in absolute terms and relative to other parties, such as caregivers.

Other highlights of the study:

Many patients believe that the cost of healthcare is a major burden, especially in the U.S. In emerging countries, improved quality and access are top priorities.

More than one in three patients worldwide think providers do not spend enough time on their care.

Discontent with the system is highest in Brazil (57% of patients believe their healthcare quality is among the world’s worst), whereas German citizens are the most pessimistic about the future (58% think their healthcare will be worse in 10 years).

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