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Most Physicians Blame Others for Rising Healthcare Costs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

Tilburt and colleagues launched the survey project in June, 2012 because, he says, physicians largely direct the intensity and extent of the care their patients receive, and as such are increasingly looked upon to be good stewards, and avoid advising unnecessary tests and procedures.  

"The landscape is changing so much, we felt it was reasonable to get a baseline to assess physicians' opinions in depth," he says.  

The questionnaire prompted 2,556 doctors to identify which segments of the healthcare industry—trial lawyers, insurers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, hospitals, patients, government, individual doctors, professional societies or employers—had "major," "some," or "no" responsibility to reduce healthcare costs.  

Responders also were asked whether they were "very," "somewhat," or "not" enthusiastic about the ability of certain strategies to reduce costs, such as continuity of care, rooting out fraud and abuse, coordinating care, preventive care, expanding EHR, expanding quality and safety data access, or promoting trials of competing treatments.

The survey findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tilburt says one finding from the survey surprised him, and indicated that physicians may be talking "out of both sides of their mouths" in the way they answered two questions.

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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".