Patient Attitudes About Doctors and Healthcare

American Health Care is Snake BitPatients don’t like their doctors.
Why is that?

That was the topic of a recent article by Peter Ubel at KevinMD.com that mentioned a New England Journal of Medicine article and included the table below. Ubel explored patient attitudes about doctors and healthcare and the reasons why Americans rate their own doctors high (ranked 3rd worldwide) and rate our healthcare system low (tied for 24th, just ahead of Chili, Bulgaria, Russia & Poland). I responded with this comment…

Yes, consumers see most doctors as compassionate and hard-working, with their hearts in the right place. After all, they got into medicine to help people. But the “system” they work in is preventing them from doing that. That system is the medical industrial complex that Steven Brill wrote about in his Time Magazine report, “A Bitter Pill: Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” (See www.mhealthtalk.com/why-high-medical-bills-are-killing-us/.)

That system includes the hospitals, drug companies, equipment companies, testing companies, and insurance companies. It’s a system that profits from illness & injury and has a perverse incentive to view patients as paying customers and keep them coming back, paying, by treating symptoms. It’s a system that trains docs entering med school to diagnose illness and treat symptoms rather than teaching prevention and wellness, with its pillars of nutrition, exercise & sleep.

And that system, answering to the investment interests of shareholders, has about $3 trillion in annual revenues to protect, so it spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex. It’s the “system” that Americans distrust, not the docs themselves, and most of the docs distrust that system too; they just feel stuck in it.

How do you see it – your doctor and the system? Respond below.

Attitudes about Doctors by Country