AAPA Poll Finds Patients Want More Time, Improved Communication with Health Care Providers

Oct 06, 2010, 04:00 ET from American Academy of Physician Assistants

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A patient-centered, team-based model of health care delivery can increase care coordination and improve patient-provider communication, two key elements that boost patient satisfaction according to a new opinion poll released today by the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

"While deliberation about the state of health care in the U.S. has focused primarily on cost and physician shortages, we found that patients are very concerned with their ability to communicate with providers," said Patrick E. Killeen, president of AAPA, which this week celebrates National Physician Assistants Week. "This feedback from patients confirms that team-based health care, which can allow physicians, PAs and other non-physician providers more time with patients, adds tremendous value to the patient experience."

Patients were asked to list their top three descriptions of a satisfying health care experience. Two out of three top responses address patients' desire to communicate more with health care providers. More than one-third (36 percent) of adults indicated that seeing a single health care provider who can oversee and coordinate health care needs would describe a satisfying health care experience. Another third (34 percent) said that being able to spend enough time with a health care provider to ask questions and receive detailed information about medical procedures is a priority.

Research shows that PAs enhance health care coordination and improve patient-provider communication. PAs are responsible for the day-to-day care of patients, allowing their supervising physicians to treat the most complex cases. In many primary care practices, the presence of PAs allows patients to be seen promptly. PAs routinely handle patient complaints, follow-up visits and patient education and counseling. They also order and analyze tests, prescribe medication and can carry out the majority of a physician's responsibilities. Physicians are then able to focus on the most complex patient problems and allow appropriate time for their care.

"PAs are often on the first line of patient interaction and we practice with an emphasis on patient communication," said Killeen. "If we're able to expand the presence of physician-led teams in the health care system, we can meet patients' expectations that they'll have access to high quality, coordinated care, and that they'll be able to spend time with their provider to discuss treatment options for them and for their families."

The poll also found that patients still view cost as a major barrier to health care. More than half (56 percent) of adults indicated that having health care that is affordable and high quality would describe a satisfying experience with the health care system, and nearly 30 percent stated that the cost of health care prevents them from accessing health care services outside the emergency room.  

The poll was conducted by Harris Interactive and included 2,052 adults 18+ living in the U.S. to identify the health care priorities that contribute to patient satisfaction and the barriers to achieving those priorities. This poll was conducted online within the United States between September 14-16, 2010 by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Academy of Physician Assistants via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population.  

National PA Week is observed each year October 6-12 by the PA profession. The week serves to celebrate the significant impact PAs have made and continue to make in health care, expand awareness of the profession and salutes the outstanding growth of the PA profession. AAPA seeks to promote quality, cost-effective, accessible health care and to promote the professional and personal development of PAs.

Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the leading association working to advance the PA profession. On behalf of the more than 74,000 PAs clinically practicing across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories, and within the armed forces and federal services, AAPA advocates, and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve.

With more than 43,000 members worldwide, AAPA works to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and widespread recognition of physician assistants. It also enhances their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered health care. Learn more about how PAs are celebrating PA Week by reading the PA Week stories at http://www.aapa.org/upcoming-events/pa-week/2010-stories.

SOURCE American Academy of Physician Assistants