7 Survey stats you should know about unnecessary care

September 15, 2015

TOPICS: Cost-of-Care

In early 2014, the ABIM Foundation commissioned a survey to explore physician attitudes about unnecessary care due to overuse of medical services in the United States.

Nearly three out of four U.S. physicians said that frequent, unnecessary medical tests and procedures are a severe problem for America’s health care system—but just as many said, the average physician orders unnecessary medical tests and procedures at least once a week.

Here are seven highlighted stats from the survey related to unnecessary care:

  • 73 percent of physicians say the frequency of unnecessary tests and procedures is a very or somewhat serious problem.
  • 66 percent of physicians feel they have a great deal of responsibility to ensure their patients avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.
  • 53 percent of physicians say that even if they know a medical test is unnecessary, they order it if a patient insists.
  • 58 percent of physicians say they are in the best position to address the problem, with the government as a distant second (15%).
  • 72 percent of physicians say the average medical doctor prescribes an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week.
  • 47 percent of physicians say their patients ask for an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week.
  • 70 percent of physicians say that after they speak with a patient about why a test or procedure is unnecessary, the patient often avoids it.

The fact that physicians are aware of the problem but continue to offer unnecessary care suggests that there may be a lack of resources and tools to facilitate better intervention. Typically, tests and procedures considered to be unnecessary involve specialists. Obtaining specialist feedback earlier and more often is a proven way for physicians to provide helpful intervention.

AristaMD offers clinical guidelines and specialist e-consults that provide fast-response specialist guidance to inform the physician-patient dialogue better. Our success with physician intervention is underscored by survey stat #7 above: patients generally trust their physician’s explanation. The challenge is connecting physicians with timely specialist feedback to have an informed conversation with patients about necessary and unnecessary care.

Learn more about the results in the summary research report.

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