Healthcare Cost Containment Not High Priority for Most Physicians


When it comes to controlling healthcare costs, only 36% of physicians agree that practicing physicians have a “major responsibility” to participate in cost containment, according to a recently published Journal of the American Medical Association study, "Views of U.S. Physicians About Controlling Health Care Costs.”

More than half of the 2,556 physicians who responded to a survey said trial lawyers, health insurance companies, hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and patients have a major responsibility for controlling healthcare costs.

In an accompanying editorial, Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, and Andrew Steinmetz, BA, of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, labeled the responses as “somewhat discouraging” and “a denial of responsibility” by physicians about their role in bringing costs under control.

Christopher Moriates, MD, a hospitalist at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) who developed a cost-awareness curriculum for physicians and serves as co-chair of UCSF’s High Value Care Committee, calls the survey a snapshot of changing attitudes in medicine because it does not include medical students or residents who, he says, are more engaged in fighting wasteful spending.

“Younger physicians are growing up in a medical world that has stressed systems-thinking and teamwork,” Dr. Moriates says. “They are ready to take that major responsibility for our healthcare system. We just need to make sure that we are teaching them how.”

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