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Most Physicians Blame Others for Rising Healthcare Costs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

Almost half of the doctors surveyed by Mayo Clinic researchers acknowledge that they "try not to think about the cost to the healthcare system when making treatment decisions." More than half blame attorneys, health plans, and hospitals for growing costs.

More than half of practicing physicians say trial lawyers, insurers, drug and device makers, and hospitals bear a major responsibility for rising health costs, but only one third point to themselves as the primary driver of the problem, according to national survey by Mayo Clinic researchers.

Moreover, nearly one in three said they did not think that electronic health records shared a responsibility to reduce healthcare costs, one in four did not think expanding access to quality and safety data would bend the cost curve, and 65% said they did not think bundled or fixed payment models for managing population health would do the job, preferring to stick with fee for service.

"What they might be saying is that they don't think these are effective care improvement strategies, or they may be saying, 'it's the right thing to do, but don't expect it to save a heck of a lot of money,' " says Jon Tilburt, MD, the principal investigator of the report.

Three-fourths of the responders said they strongly agreed or moderately agreed with the statement, "I am aware of the costs of the tests/treatments I recommend." But one in four disagreed with that statement.  

And 42% strongly or moderately agreed with the statement that they "try not to think about the cost to the healthcare system when making treatment decisions.

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4 comments on "Most Physicians Blame Others for Rising Healthcare Costs"


W. Rhea (7/31/2013 at 10:36 AM)
Why should the cost of a course treatment using an older but excellent antibiotic have recently gone from +/- $8 to +/- $80? Are we looking at price gouging here. The same applie to many other areas in the medical field.

Matt Wynia (7/29/2013 at 2:16 PM)
There is a mistake in your report on this study. In fact, 85% of respondents DISAGREED with the statement that they "should sometimes deny beneficial but costly services to certain patients because resources should go to other patients that need them more."

Thomas Bladek MD (7/25/2013 at 3:58 PM)
I felt a need to respond to the distorted perception non-health care providers have for our current healthcare system. Their time is spent talking and writing about their perceptions. They are not in the offices, clinics, or hospitals on a daily basis caring for patients and seeing what clinical medical practice is really about. COSTS: I entered practice in 1987. The group I joined consisted of 10 physicians. We had a billing service through a local accounting firm. The person doing our billing was employed part-time, and she provided billing services for two other similar sized practices as well. Again, she processed claims "PART-TIME" for three practices. We submitted an index sized card with patient demographics, and charges for our profession fee. We billed @ 6,000 procedures/year, worked a 40 hour week, and our income held steady as it had been for the previous 10 years. In 1990, HMO penetration increased in Connecticut. The paperwork became more complex and burdensome. We asked the person doing our "part-time" billing to join our practice, and set up a billing office for us. She accepted, and hoped she would have enough work. Today, our billing office consists of: ? one (1) Business Manager to help negotiate/ renegotiate Managed Care Contracts, and ensure compliance with all healthcare mandates and regulations. ? one (1) Office Manager, ? five (5) billing and collections personnel, ? three (3) certified professional coders (two with R.N. degrees); ? one (1) coder to review outgoing codes to be sure we are in compliance with billing practices, and ? five (5) part-time office staff members. ? We employ an accountant, and a contract attorney pat-time. ? We have an IT professional to maintain and [INVALID] the $150,000 we spend in hardware every three years, a contract with a software vendor to [INVALID] our billing software annually. In 2008, we were a 12 physician practice. We billed @ 15,000 procedures and worked a 60 plus hour week. In 2008, each physician made 40% less than we did in 1987. Why ? The "perception", from a physician perspective, is "new" industries were created in hopes of capturing the healthcare dollar. Greed fueled the fire. It started with the HMO's. The number of individuals employed and the massive building complexes the HMO's inhabit make a large city hospital look like an inner city clinic. The HMO's effectively convinced the media and the public their mission was, "to contain rising healthcare costs". Private physician groups responded by increasing their staff in order to "submit a bill". Remember, I did not say "take care of patient's" or "get paid for service's rendered", rather, "to submit a bill". How many "consultants" justify their positions in society today on the backs of the healthcare dollar. Having trained for 9 years (after graduating college) to effectively care for the patient, I am offended when articulate non-healthcare providers attempt to brainwash the masses into believing the physician is overpaid and responsible for the "healthcare crisis".