By Jason Millman - 04/12/11 03:01 PM EDT
More than half of Americans believe the quality of U.S. healthcare is average at best, a new poll finds.
Fifty-fifty percent gave healthcare quality a C or D grade on a typical report card scale, and 11 percent said the system completely flunks out, according to a survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“The poll is a wake-up call for payers and the healthcare industry, both of which have been working steadily to improve the quality of care, but need to kick their efforts into overdrive toward accountability,” said foundation president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey.
The Tuesday morning report comes out as the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a new patient safety initiative that seeks to improve healthcare quality while producing up to $35 billion in savings, including $10 billion in Medicare.
The poll shows that Americans carry misconceptions about the quality of care. Though studies show evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in care, most think that African Americans (60 percent) and Hispanics (56 percent) receive the same quality of care as whites.
And though patients gave poor marks to the overall healthcare system, they tend to think more highly of the care they’ve received. When asked to choose between receiving treatment at a hospital they’re familiar with or one with higher quality ratings, 57 percent would choose the familiar while 38 percent opt for the quality hospital.