By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
JULY 23, 2013 – Physicians feel that other major players in healthcare — lawyers, insurance companies, hospitals, drug companies, and patients — bear greater responsibility for reducing healthcare costs than doctors do, a survey found.
Furthermore, doctors are hesitant to back substantial financing reforms such as eliminating fee-for-service, but they support reducing unnecessary treatments, Jon Tilburt, MD, MPH, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues found.
“More aggressive — and potentially necessary — financing changes may need to be phased in with careful monitoring to ensure that they do not infringe on the integrity of individual clinical relationships,” the authors wrote in the July 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers mailed surveys to U.S. physicians randomly selected from the American Medical Association’s Masterfile to assess physicians’ attitudes on addressing healthcare costs. A total of 2,556 of 3,897 replied.
Respondents said trial lawyers (60%), health insurance companies (59%), hospitals and health systems (56%), pharmaceutical and device manufacturers (56%), and patients (52%) have a “major responsibility” for reducing healthcare costs. However, just 36% reported practicing physicians have the same duty.
Only employers (19%) and physician professional societies (27%) bear less responsibility than individual physicians, the survey found.
“This is a denial of responsibility,” Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, and Andrew Steinmetz, both of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “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?”