NEW YORK--()--A majority of health consumers say reducing the cost of healthcare is more important than having access to innovative treatment options.
“With consumers facing so many complex decisions about healthcare, public opinion is in a constant state of flux. What the public needs and what it ultimately values – and will pay for -- are not always the same thing”
These and other findings from the Hill+Knowlton Strategies Health Innovations Poll will be discussed today at the Bloomberg Healthcare Innovations Conference in New York City. The national survey, conducted in collaboration with the firm’s Research+Data Insights organization, assessed the public’s view on the state of healthcare today and how factors such as cost, access, innovation and reputation influence their healthcare decisions.
“With consumers facing so many complex decisions about healthcare, public opinion is in a constant state of flux. What the public needs and what it ultimately values – and will pay for -- are not always the same thing,” said Susan Thiele, SVP and U.S. Healthcare Practice Director at H+K Strategies. “In this environment, it’s critical to understand shifting public opinion so that new advances are developed and positioned in a way that’s meaningful to consumers. The healthcare industry strives for innovation, but innovation alone does not ensure success.”
The full-day conference at Bloomberg's headquarters convenes financial professionals investing in healthcare and executives from relevant sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare IT. Thiele is leading a session titled “The American Public’s Point of View.”
Following are some key results from the H+K Strategies Health Innovations Poll, which surveyed 800 Americans aged 18 and over.
Cost of care is chief concern among consumers
More than half of respondents see the high costs associated with medical care and health coverage as the most pressing healthcare problem. When it comes to their own care, it’s also the issue that they worry about the most.
|Is the following something that you worry about a lot, somewhat or not at all?||
|Paying medical bills in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident||45%|
|Paying for health insurance coverage||36%|
|Making sure you and your family receive the best quality healthcare||33%|
|Losing health coverage if you or your significant other lose a job||32%|
|Meeting the costs of routine healthcare (e.g. physicals, preventive screenings, routine prescriptions)||31%|
|Having access to the latest, most innovative medical treatment||21%|
Cost is also a critical driver of behavior, despite the fact that 78% of respondents do not want to consider it when making healthcare decisions. In the past two years, concern over cost has prompted 34% of those surveyed to put off medical treatment and 31% to skip or postpone a regular doctor’s visit.
|When making healthcare decisions for you and your family, how important are the following factors?||
|Cost of services||27|
|Whether it’s covered by health insurance||26|
|Advice from your medical health professional||25|
|Knowledge of the potential benefits versus the risks associated with a treatment/ service||14|
|Proximity of treatment to home or work||3|
|Recommendations from your family and friends||3|
|Required time away from work and family||2|
Choice + access are valued most by the public
Despite their concern over healthcare costs, nearly 9 in 10 surveyed agreed that it’s important to be able to choose whichever treatment they prefer.
While people do not want companies to cut back on development in order to keep treatment costs down, access to innovative therapies is not considered critical when defining high quality care. Rather, access to quality primary care physicians, medical institutions and specialists are judged to be the most important characteristics (53%, 17% and 16%, respectively).
Health innovations must be tangible
When asked an open-ended question about what healthcare innovation meant to them, lowering costs/improving affordability of care was at the top of the list ahead of incremental improvements, finding new treatments and better quality of care. Nevertheless people are willing to pay for innovation if they view its benefit as meaningful to them.
|How likely would you be to pay more for the following?||
|A health plan that provides access to wide variety of treatment options and services||81%|
|A medication if you believe you will have a better outcome with it compared to an older product||80%|
|Treatment at facility known for cutting-edge treatment or services||74%|
|A treatment or service that would require less time away from work and family||67%|
Beyond innovation, reputation matters
When people make health decisions, the reputation of a company or institution is important. Among those surveyed, reputation is a key consideration when selecting a health insurer or medical facility (68% and 76%, respectively). Awareness of a company or treatment can also influence a patient’s health discussions with his or her healthcare provider (73%).
Key industry takeaways:
- When it comes to healthcare, people are in a stage of wishful thinking – they know that changes must be made yet are resistant to making trade-offs.
- Innovation must be grounded in public insight – what the public needs and what it values is not always aligned.
- Public opinion will evolve along with the environment – ongoing polling provides an opportunity to course correct as opinion shifts.
For more information on the H+K Strategies Health Innovations Poll, please email: HIP@hkstrategies.com.
For more information on the Bloomberg program and speakers, please visit: http://www.bloomberglink.com/healthcare.
About Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is a leading international communications consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with 83 offices in 46 countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The agency is part of WPP, one of the world's largest communications services groups.