Aetna released the results of its inaugural Health Ambitions Study, which explores consumers’ health goals and the relationship between consumers and providers in the evolving healthcare system. The study finds that people, particularly women, are paying attention to their holistic health, as they seek resources that better support both health and wellbeing.
If given an extra hour in the day: 60% of people said they would spend it on mental and physical wellbeing activities (67% of women compared to 44% of men). Forty-five percent of women say they have a stress reduction health goal, compared to 28% of men.
Still, 50% of women say they are very likely to take their doctors’ recommendations, compared to 61% of men, highlighting an opportunity to improve how the industry engages women on their health journeys.
The Health Ambitions Study finds that fewer women believe that their doctors understand their health needs, as 70% of women say their doctors are aware of their lifestyle habits, compared to 81% of men.
The study reveals the importance of providing simple, accessible solutions to help consumers achieve their health goals. Overall, respondents say it is very important that their doctors talk in a way they can easily understand (77%), have office appointments when they need them (66%), and offer access to other healthcare professionals to coordinate care (59%).
Men say they are more confident that doctors understand their health lifestyles. More than three-quarters (80%) of men say their doctor is familiar with their health goals, compared to 65% of women.
The study illuminates the health and wellness needs of the Sandwich Generation—those who manage the health needs of both their children and their parents.
Encouragingly, nearly all consumers in the Sandwich Generation say their doctors spend enough time answering questions (85%), offer access to other healthcare professionals (84%), and have office appointments when needed (77%).
When it comes to supporting holistic health, consumers want access to resources that address mental health and stress reduction. More than one-third says they have a stress reduction (40%) or a mental health goal (36%).
Doctors play a critical role in the network of support, with respondents saying it is important that their primary care physician be familiar with their mental health history (86%) and ability to manage stress (84%).
The study further reveals a clear opportunity to transform the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S. Doctors are seeking greater access to community and health resources to better serve their patients. In fact, over half of physicians (54%) say that mental health counselors are very important, yet only 7% say they have excellent access to this vital community resource.
Other notable findings of the survey include:
- Younger consumers are turning to digital tools, more than older consumers, to improve communication with their doctor: 37% of those aged 18-34 say digital messaging and 35% say virtual office visits would be valuable, compared to only 32% and 17%, respectively, of people aged 65 and older.
- While consumers highly rated privacy (80%) and data security (76%) as important aspects of healthcare, health costs were also a concern. Seventy-three percent of consumers indicated that the cost of care is very important. This ranks ahead of getting personalized care (71%) and coordination among healthcare providers (68%).
- Providers in value-based care models have greater access to community resources than providers who are not involved in value-based care models. For example, 61% of those in value-based care models say they have very good or good access to nutritionists, compared to just 46% of physicians not in value-based care models.