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Study Looks at How Doctors See Their Role in Controlling Costs

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Many U.S. physicians believe they have a role in helping to control health care costs.

Dr. Jon Tilburt says, "They feel like they are only one of several players that need to contribute to that process."

Those include insurance companies, malpractice lawyers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies and their patients.

Dr. Tilburt says, "They are not going to let health care cost issues get in the way with them doing the right thing for patients."

Dr. Tilburt from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and co-authors surveyed a random sample of U.S. physicians.

Researchers wanted to know about physicians' perceptions on how proposed cost cutting measures fit in with the way they deliver medical care and receive payment.

Dr. Tilburt, "Physicians are most enthusiastic for improving quality and improving evidence being used in clinical decision making. And they don't see any conflict between the idea of upholding the best interest of the patient and shaving off some of the marginally beneficial or wasteful care."

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Tilburt says, "They're not so enthusiastic about changing how care gets paid for including bundled reimbursement or cuts to Medicare or getting rid of fee-for-service medicine."

Researchers say physicians on salary are three to four times more likely to endorse eliminating fee-for-service payments compared to those who rely on billing only.

Dr. Tilburt says, "The overwhelming message we get from physicians is a sense of nervousness and a sense of this challenge of navigating between addressing health care costs and maintaining the needs of patients."

However, one thing remained clear from the survey that should be reassuring for patients.

Dr. Tilburt says, "Physicians want to have their back and they do have their back and they want to continue to have their back as health care reform rolls out."