Press Release - Fixing Health Care: What Women Want

New poll shows women want a patient-centered medical home

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Janelle Davis
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6253

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American women want a health care system in which they and their families can conveniently obtain preventive services, see their personal physicians the day they become sick, and receive coordinated follow-up care if they require hospitalization or care from other physicians.

That is not what they usually encounter when they seek health care for themselves, their children, spouses or adult relatives, according to a poll released today by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the AAFP, obtained responses from 1,193 American women who said they were the primary health care decision makers for themselves and/or their family members. Questions focused on their past experiences with the health care system and what attributes are most important to them.

Among the poll’s findings: nearly 60 percent of respondents said they face challenges in obtaining health care for themselves and/or family members. And when they do receive care, they enter a system of confusing communications, duplicative paperwork and tests, and, at times, contradictory recommendations from different doctors. The survey found that when receiving healthcare for themselves and/or their family members:

  • 43 percent of the respondents said they have had to fill out complete patient histories and other forms at each medical provider’s office;
  • 26 percent said they have had to inform one medical provider what another had recommended or diagnosed;
  • 16 percent have had to carry lab reports, x-rays and other test results from one medical provider’s office to another;
  • 11 percent have received contradictory recommendations from different medical providers; and
  • nearly 10 percent have had to repeat lab tests unnecessarily because of lack of communication between medical providers.

“These findings point to some of the most important cost-drivers in America’s health care system,” said Jim King, M.D., president of the AAFP. “A system that is difficult to navigate and relies on patients to deliver tests and communicate diagnoses leads to fragmented care, duplication of tests and sometimes unnecessary procedures – all of which steadily drive up the cost of health care for the nation as a whole.”

The survey asked women who are primary health care decision makers for themselves and/or their family members about the importance of certain aspects of the health care system.

  • 68 percent of the respondents said same-day appointments with their/their family members’ primary care physician for unexpected illnesses were extremely/very important.
  • 63 percent said the ability to have a relationship with a doctor who knows their/their family members’ medical history in order to help aid in diagnosing and treating other family members was extremely/very important.
  • 63 percent said one doctor who can manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease was extremely/very important.
  • 60 percent said technology that enables doctors to send medical records and patient histories electronically to other doctors was extremely/very important.
  • 57 percent said one doctor who can provide high quality health care to all family members regardless of age or gender was extremely/very important.
  • 51 percent said technology that allowed doctors and patients to communicate electronically was extremely/very important.
  • 50 percent said technology that enables doctors to send prescriptions to pharmacists electronically was extremely/very important.

“These are all elements of a patient-centered medical home,” King said. “This concept is taking hold across the country. Family physicians are at the forefront in developing this model of personalized, top quality health care that every patient deserves.”

One such physician is Melissa Gerdes, M.D., whose Whitehouse, Texas, practice is participating in TransforMED, a two-year, $8 million practice redesign initiative of the AAFP, in which 34 medical practices nationwide are transforming their medical practices based on the medical home model.

“When people envision an ideal health care environment, they generally are thinking of what we call the patient-centered medical home,” said Gerdes. “Family physicians are working to see that this concept becomes reality for everyone.”

A patient-centered medical home is a model of health care in which patients have an ongoing relationship with a personal physician who helps the patient navigate the complex and confusing health care system by coordinating and facilitating services with other qualified medical professionals. As such, the medical home becomes the “home base” for preventive and chronic care, and the first stop for sick care.

The medical home model employs a team-based approach to care that provides patients with:

  • preventive care, sick care and help managing chronic conditions;
  • expanded hours and same-day appointments;
  • care coordination across all settings – doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, consultants, and other components of the complex health care system;
  • electronic health records that serve as a “library” where the essential elements of a patient’s history and health care interactions are stored;
  • effective use of technology, making it possible for doctors to communicate with one another and stay up to date on mutual patients’ medical conditions;
  • virtual office visits via a secure e-mail system; and
  • the convenience of transmitting prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.

“A patient-centered medical home meets patients’ needs for convenience and ensures the kind of comprehensive, quality care they deserve,” King said. “Family physicians are moving forward with a vision, a purpose and a plan to make a patient-centered medical home a reality for everyone in the United States.”
An executive summary of the AAFP poll results is available online at


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service on behalf of AAFP between March 20 and 24, 2008 among 1,270 U.S. adult women aged 18 years and older, of whom 1,193 are responsible for health care decisions for themselves and/or their family members. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About the American Academy of Family Physicians

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit Follow us on Twitter,( and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,


About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research that is powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit