Patient Care

Physicians Feel Responsibility to Address Healthcare Costs


Clinical question: What are physicians’ attitudes toward addressing healthcare costs and which strategies do they most enthusiastically support?

Background: Physicians are expected to take a lead role in containing healthcare costs, especially in the face of healthcare reform; however, their attitudes regarding this role are unknown.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: U.S. physicians randomly selected from the AMA master file.

Synopsis: Among 2,556 physicians who responded to the survey (response rate: 65%), most believed stakeholders other than physicians (e.g., lawyers, hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and patients) have a “major responsibility” for reducing healthcare costs. Most physicians were likely to support such quality initiatives as enhancing continuity of care and promoting chronic disease care coordination. Physicians were also enthusiastic with regard to expanding the use of electronic health records.

The majority of physicians expressed agreement about their responsibility to address healthcare costs by adhering to clinical guidelines, limiting unnecessary testing, and focusing on the individual patient’s best interest. However, a majority expressed limited enthusiasm for strategies that involved cost cutting to physicians, such as eliminating fee-for-service payment models, reducing compensation for the highest paid specialties, and allowing Medicare payment cuts to doctors.

Of note, in the multivariate model, physicians receiving salary-based compensation were more likely to be enthusiastic about eliminating fee-for-service.

Bottom line: Physicians expressed considerable enthusiasm for addressing healthcare costs and are in general agreement but are not enthusiastic about changes that involve physician payment cuts.

Citation: Tilburt JC, Wynia MK, Sheeler RD, et al. Views of US physicians about controlling health care costs. JAMA. 2013;310:380-388.

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