Finn Partners National Survey Reveals How Fragmented Health System Places Greater Burden On Patients

- Consumers Change Physicians as often as they Change Health Insurance

- Half of Consumers Change Health Insurance and Physicians Every Three Years

- Consumers Readily Accept Pharmacists' Alternative Drug Recommendations

Feb 09, 2016, 09:00 ET from Finn Partners

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The fragmented U.S. healthcare system forces consumers to navigate medical care on their own putting convenience and cost into the forefront of their decision-making, according to a new survey conducted by Finn Partners, one of the world's largest independent public relations and public affairs agencies.  

The 1,000-person national poll suggests that payer, provider, policy and pharmaceutical leaders have an opportunity to help consumers gain greater value from their health-dollar spend, with the goal of improving care and reducing cost.

Results from the Finn Futures™ survey show consumers who change health insurance plans frequently switch their primary care physicians just as often, requiring them to be the owners of their medical history and regimen. Consumers cited their primary care physician as the most trusted source for medical information; however, more than two-thirds see their doctor only once or twice a year.  This lack of medical provider continuity may impact health behavior and disease-awareness engagement.  

Room for Improvement in Provider and Pharma Communication

  • About half of Americans with health insurance have had a relationship with their primary-care physician for fewer than three years
  • Nearly half of respondents under age 65 were unaware that pharmaceutical companies offer co-pay coupons (i.e., savings cards), regardless of household income, to reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicines
  • 43 percent of respondents said that their pharmacist always or frequently recommends an alternative prescription medication to what their physician prescribes initially
  • Nearly half of respondents said they always or mostly accept their pharmacist's alternative recommendation for a medication prescribed by their physician
  • More than three out of four patients will consult their physician or pharmacist first if they have a question about prescription medication; only eight percent visit a medication web site
  • 46 percent of respondents said they see their primary care physician only once a year, when called or reminded to make an appointment or when they are ill

"Despite the talk, the concept of consumer – in this case, the patient – as king has yet to be realized within the health community," says Gil Bashe, managing partner, Finn Partners. "Health professionals, payer, pharma industry and policy decision makers have a responsibility to be better patient resources. Providing a clearer path for patients to navigate the system may improve outcomes and reduce costs – it's still a missing magic ingredient."

Consumers May Gain Greater Value with Longer Health-Insurer Relationships

  • About half of respondents have changed their health plan in the last three years
  • Americans are evenly split on whether they read their health insurance plan, but those most likely to do so have been with the same insurance plan between 6 to10 years
  • Almost 60 percent expect their health plans to be active on social media to address questions on plan changes, co-pays or wellness information
  • Some 55 percent of consumers surveyed noted that use of celebrities is not an influencing factor when asking for a medication.  Evidence has shown that health insurance formularies and out-of-pocket cost are a deciding vote on drug choice

"While cost concern is a constant refrain, helping consumers connect to health plan value and medication savings benefits are big value opportunities," says Emily Shirden, partner, Finn Partners. "Insurers active in connecting to customers may help them retain longer primary-care relationships, improving preventive care and reducing personal and societal health costs."

Opportunity for Patients to Get What They Pay For

"While U.S. health sectors – payer, provider, pharma and policymakers – have varied objectives, they all intersect around the patient," adds Bashe. "Health leaders who see patients as customers are the most likely to win relationship loyalty.  Patients can get what they pay for – provided they know the existing resources the health system offers.  Too many consumers still remain in the dark and helping them to find their way will define market leaders."

About the Survey

The Finn Futures survey, from Finn Partners, was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, and is part of an ongoing initiative by the company to assess attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in healthcare and other issues of critical importance to consumers. Full results of the survey are available at

About Finn Partners, Inc.
Finn Partners was launched in late 2011 to realize Peter Finn's vision to create a leading communications agency dedicated to shaping a bold new future in which innovation and partnership are strong brand drivers. Finn Partners specializes in the full spectrum of public and corporate affairs services, including digital and social media.  Practice areas include arts, consumer, CSR, education, health, technology and travel & lifestyle.

Since inception four years ago, Finn Partners has received six agency awards that are indicators of client and cultural leadership: "Best Midsize Agency" in 2015, "Best Agency to Work For" in 2013 and "Best New Agency" in 2012 from the Holmes Report and Midsize PR Firm of the Year in 2015 and Top Places to Work in PR in 2013 from PR News.  Headquartered in New York City, the company has approximately 500 employees, with offices in Chicago, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Jerusalem, London, Los Angeles, Munich, Nashville, Paris, San Francisco and Washington D.C., and offers international capabilities through its own global network and PROI Worldwide. Find us at and follow us on Twitter @finnpartners.

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