Patient Privacy and Security Are Most Important to Consumers According to Aetna Survey

Health insurer Aetna conducted a survey about consumers’ attitudes toward healthcare, their associations with their healthcare providers, and what they deem are the most important facets of healthcare. The Health Ambitions Study involved 1,000 consumers aged 18 years old and above, with a corresponding survey performed on 400 doctors – 200 primary care physicians and 200 medical specialists.

The consumer survey confirmed that patients are concerned about their healthcare. Many patients are taking a holistic view of their healthcare and try to find resources that help them improve their health. 60% of survey participants said that if they were given an additional hour every day, they would devote it to activities that would improve their physical and mental well being. Women were more likely to use that hour for healthy activities (67%) than men (44%).

A lesser number of women thought their doctors knew their health requirements than men. According to the survey, 65% of women and 80% of men stated their physician knows their wellness goals. Women have more difficulty compared to men when talking to their doctors regarding their lifestyle habits, and women were a lot less likely than men to follow the advice of their doctor. Only half of the women said they would likely to follow their physician’s advice compared with 81% of men. Women tend to be the main caregiver in the family, so with regards to health, women need support to feel positive about their health choices for the family, wrote Aetna in its report.

Two aspects of health that require improvement are stress reduction and mental health. Stress reduction is a major target for 45% of women and 28% of men. Improving mental wellness is a major concern for 36% of the respondents. 70% of respondents said one way their doctors could improve their service was to talk to them using language that can be easily understood, 66% want to be able to get appointments whenever they need them, and 66% would like access to healthcare specialists that can help them with their specific health conditions.

Digital health services are viewed as important, especially for the younger generation. 35% of respondents younger than 35 years old said digital messaging would be useful and 36% said they like the option of virtual office visits. The same number of respondents said telehealth could be valuable. Digital messaging can also be useful to older patients – 32% of over 65 year old respondents said it would be useful. Just 17% of patients in this age group thought virtual office visits would help and only 14% said telehealth would be helpful.

Consumers were asked about their biggest issues regarding healthcare. Increasing healthcare costs is an issue, but the major area of concern for consumers is patient privacy and data security:

  • 80% of respondents said patient privacy is very important
  • 76% of respondents said data security is very important
  • 73% of respondents said healthcare cost is very important

More women (84%) consider patient privacy to be important than men (71%). The same is true with data security (80% of women vs. 66% of men). 71% of respondents said that obtaining personalized care was very important and 68% said that coordination of healthcare is important . The survey on doctors revealed that only 50% of doctors felt that patients really need mental health counselors; only 41% saw value in providing access to substance abuse counselors, 37% though access to nutritionists was important, and 35% believed in the value of providing access to social workers. Just 32% regarded in-home aides to be important.