According to a recent study published in JAMA Oncology, despite physicians’ assumptions, patient demands are not too high for healthcare costs.
This conclusion was reached as the study found the actual rate at which patients’ requests were satisfied to be extremely low.
To reach these results, the study analyzed 5,050 patient-clinician encounters involving 3,624 patients and 60 clinicians in three oncology units. The timeframe for this analysis was between October 2013 and June 2014.
It was found that out of the total 5,050 encounters, 440 included a demand by the patients. Out of 440 demands, physicians went forward with 365 (83 percent) of them.
Out of those 365 for which the clinicians complied, 50 patients asked for something that was classified as an “inappropriate demand.” The clinicians, however, then only moved forward with seven of these inappropriate requests.
Thus, out of the total 5,050 encounters, clinicians only followed through with .14 percent of inappropriate patient demands.
It can also be interesting to look at why physicians would even knowingly follow through with these deemed “inappropriate demands.” This could be because physicians often feel compelled to do additional tests and procedures to protect themselves from medical malpractice suits.
While this study more specifically looked at oncology, it can be looked at as an important study for the entire healthcare community. Instead of blaming the patient, it urges the industry, especially clinicians, to investigate other areas for why there might be higher healthcare costs.
For some assigning blame and not doing any in-depth research to ones finances might be an easier solution, but it is one that the industry and patients’ trusted physicians should try to refrain from doing.
Definitive Healthcare’s physician database tracks over 1.1 million physicians, with 12,305 of these clinicians citing Oncology as their primary specialty. Therefore while Oncology specialists may be an interesting group to investigate with this study, it would be interesting to see similar studies done with larger and more specialty groups in the future.