2011 U.S. and Global Survey of Health Care Consumers: Foreword by Paul Keckley, Ph.D.

Since 2008, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has surveyed U.S. adults to gauge opinions and expectations about our health care system. During this period, the economy tumbled and health care reform became a dominant political theme.

One might assume that consumer understanding of our system would be better informed as a result of these events; however, our surveys suggest otherwise. Consumers remain largely confused about the system although nonetheless highly opinionated about their interactions with doctors, hospitals, health insurers, and in their views of prescription drugs. As a result, it is our conclusion that consumers judge the U.S. health care system based on prior personal experience rather than a systemic view, perhaps due to its magnitude and complexity. Understandably, appreciation of such things as innovations that improve system effectiveness or reduce inefficiency are outside of a consumer's regular experience of the system. This perpetuates the industry's view that it serves “patients,” not “consumers.”

Findings from this year's study of consumers in the U.S. and 11 other countries identify three global trends that suggest health care leaders should think of patients as consumers: clinical innovations are driving solutions to medical problems that enable consumers to take care of themselves; governments and employers face shrinking budgets even as health care costs are soaring; and consumers are paying attention to health care as never before.

As health reform takes hold in countries like the U.S., our studies identify significant opportunity to engage consumers more effectively and address their unmet needs. This requires policymakers and industry stakeholders to align interests toward their engagement as they undergo the transition from patients to consumers.

Explore the full findings of the 2011 U.S. and Global Survey of Health Care Consumers.

Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Deloitte Center for Health Solutions
Washington, D.C.