Physicians Pass Responsibility for Healthcare Cost Control

A recent poll given to doctors showed that while they admit having some effect on healthcare costs, they felt the majority of health price control remained in the hands of lawyers, health insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and patients.

A recent poll given to doctors showed that while they admit having some effect on healthcare costs, they felt the majority of health price control remained in the hands of lawyers, health insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and patients.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that out of 2,500 doctors, 59% believed they had some responsibility in holding down healthcare costs, while only 36% voiced having a major role. More than half of those polled physicians agreed that the 5 other stakeholder groups carried a “major responsibility.”

“What physicians are trying to tell us is that they don’t see themselves as necessarily any more responsible for healthcare costs than all of those stakeholders,” said Dr Jon Tilburt, associate professor at the Mayo Clinic and study author. “They see themselves as a contributor, not a main contributor.”

The researchers argue that it may be necessary to phase in more aggressive financial changes. With monitoring, they could ensure the integrity of clinical relationships would not be infringed upon.

"This is a denial of responsibility," stated Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, and Andrew Steinmetz, both from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "Of course, physicians do not want to be blamed for the country's major problem. But can they really be both the captain of the healthcare ship and cede responsibility for cost control to almost everyone else?"

Dr Emanuel added that physicians must accept and take responsibility for controlling healthcare costs. With 85% of respondents agreeing that "trying to contain costs is the responsibility of every physician," the group’s findings suggest that it might take a larger policy reform in physician payment models to successfully encourage value-based, quality-driven performance.

“[Physicians] are most enthusiastic about those cost-containing strategies that improve the quality of care, that bring evidence to the bedside, and that are a clear win-win for the doctor, the patient, and the health system," Tilburt said in a recent interview. "They get more nervous when their bottom line is at stake."

Around the Web

Study: Doctors Look To Others To Curb Health Costs

[Washington Post]

Study: Doctors Look To Others To Play Biggest Role In Curbing Health Costs [Kaiser Health News]

Docs Point to Others to Cut Health Costs [MedPage Today]