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Nearly 3 in 4 Americans say U.S. healthcare system falls short


Most Americans say the healthcare system is overwhelming and time-consuming. Patients say they want more time with providers and find it too difficult to get appointments.

Most Americans say the U.S. healthcare system is failing them, according to a new Harris Poll.

The survey, commissioned by the American Academy of Physician Associates, sheds more light on consumers’ dissatisfaction with healthcare. Most Americans say the healthcare system is overwhelming and takes far too much time and effort to get an appointment, and many patients say they feel rushed when they finally do get to see a provider.

Overall, 73% of Americans say the healthcare system is failing them in some way. The survey was first reported by Time.

Among those citing the failings of the healthcare system, respondents most commonly said the length of time it takes to get an appointment (31%), followed by the costs straining finances (26%).

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of adults feel managing healthcare is “overwhelming” and “time-consuming,” according to the poll. That sentiment is even more pronounced among younger adults, with 76% of those 18-34 years old saying the system is overwhelming.

Almost half (44%) of Americans say they have delayed or skipped healthcare needs in the past two years, the poll found.

Among those who deferred care, they cited the cost as the most common reason (40%), but a significant number (30%) said they couldn’t take time away due to other responsibilities. And 60% of those who delayed care said their decision had some kind of impact. A Gallup poll released in January found the number of Americans delaying care due to the cost reached a 22-year high.

Two out of three patients (66%) said their appointments feel more rushed than they did in the past. Most patients (64%) say they wished providers took more time to understand them, and nearly half (49%) say they don’t always feel like their providers are listening to them.

On average, Americans spend about eight hours a month - essentially a workday - coordinating their healthcare or appointments for loved ones, according to the poll.

Lisa M. Gables, CEO of the American Academy of Physician Associates, said in a statement that the organization wanted to do the survey “to understand from the patient perspective what is and isn’t working in healthcare today.”

Patients are worried about healthcare staffing shortages, with 68% saying they are worried about the impact a lack of workers will have on them as patients.

The survey found a vast majority (91%) of Americans said physician associates give safe and effective care, and 90% say physician associates make it easier to get appointments.

In some bright sports, three-quarters of the participants (75%) said providers are working with them to improve their health, and most said they want a better relationship with their providers.

Two-thirds (67%) of the participants said they feel their health would improve if they regularly worked with a healthcare provider that they trusted. More than half (54%) said they would have better health if their providers would help them navigate the health system.

Health systems and hospitals have acknowledged they need to provide a better experience for patients, including enabling patients to get appointments more quickly and with fewer hassles.

Patients have more choices for health services and treatment, and they will go elsewhere, Mona Baset, the vice president of digital services for Intermountain Health, said in an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive® at the HIMSS Global Health Conference in April.

“People have options now,” Baset says. “It isn't that they're stuck with a provider, or stuck with a health system. They have a lot more choices. And they're going to pick the easiest thing that they can afford. And we have to be ready for that.” (See more from our conversation with Mona Baset about improving the patient experience in this video.)

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,519 adults around the country. The survey was conducted from February 23 through March 9, 2023.

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