Consumers have health goals across many dimensions, topped with eating well, getting fit, reducing stress, sleeping better, feeling mentally well, and improving personal finances.
That’s an ambitious health-and-wellness list, identified in the Health Ambitions Study, the first such research Aetna has published.
Six in ten people are looking to food and nutrition for health, whether as “medicine” to deal with chronic conditions, for weight loss or general wellness, which is a frequent theme here on Health Populi. Consumers embrace their food habits as a key self-care determinant of health.
Fitness, cited by most consumers, is also a can-do, self-powered activity that can cost a consumer zero to little money when we consider the power of walking in a neighborhood, at the mall or the “Y,” taking stairs at work, and parking a car far from a building entry.
Reducing stress? That’s key for 40% of consumers in this study. Knowing from the American Psychological Association Stress in America study that over 50% of Americans now feel stress, this finding in the Aetna research resonates.
Sleep, too, or lack thereof, is top-of-mind for so many consumers: there was a growing category of sleep-assisting digital health tools featured at the 2018 CES, which I covered here in the Huffington Post. One-third of people cite mental health as a goal, closely followed by improving finances. Financial health relates to the previous five goals as money-stress can lead to poor eating habits, lack of energy to exercise, interrupted sleep, and of course, anxiety.
While the consumer spirit is willing and goal-oriented when it comes to health, most people understand that making behavior change initially then making it stick is difficult. So the vast majority of consumers look to doctors to help them achieve their health goals, the second chart illustrates. Beyond health, lifestyle and stress, note that 3 in four people want physicians to help them achieve overall happiness and life satisfaction.
The annual checkup is the top-ranked opportunity consumers identify to communicate with their physician: I repeat, “annual” check up. This is followed by feeling sick, prompting people to schedule time to see the doctor for more urgent (non-preventive) issues.
The cost of care is a big issue for most consumers: one-half of consumers want doctors to help them understand the cost of their care. Two in three consumers have made a health care goal to reduce their healthcare costs.
There’s a Mars/Venus chasm between women and men when it comes to healthcare navigation: fewer women than men feel their physicians are familiar with their health values — lifestyle habits, health goals, and personal relationships. But two-thirds of women are keen to spend an extra hour a day on well-being.
Aetna worked with Market Measurement to conduct 1,000 interviews among people 18 years of age and older in December 2017. An additional survey of 400 physicians was conducted, split between 200 primary care providers and 200 specialty physicians.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The good news conclusion of the Health Ambitions Study is that consumers, indeed, have ambitious goals for their personal health. The opportunity-gap that physicians can fill is to help people address their health goals based on their health values. In my client work and speech-giving, I often point these days to a JAMA article, Value-Based Payments Require Valuing What Matters to Patients. Women, especially, articulate the need and wish for their physicians to help them deal with real-life flows — even to help them achieve happiness and life satisfaction.
It’s encouraging, then, that Aetna found physicians involved in value-based payments to identify community-based resources like social workers, in-home visitors, mental health counselors, and nutritionists to help people deal with wellness goals — that they themselves value.
Remember that doctors, still, rank quite highly on consumers’ list of trusted and ethical professions in the annual Gallup Poll. The doctor-patient relationship continues to have goodwill that can feed consumer engagement to help people achieve their personal health ambitions.