The Forum developed the inaugural HBS and HMS Survey of Executive Sentiment in Healthcare, which asked all conference invitees to respond to questions concerning cost and quality trends and the anticipated impact of various innovation opportunities across all sectors of the healthcare industry.
Notable for its scope, the survey was designed to capture executive sentiment from leaders across all key sectors of the healthcare industry. Of the 509 leaders invited to participate, 216 responded to the full survey, for a response rate of over 42 percent.
Among other issues, the survey probed opinions regarding the source of future innovations—private sector versus government, established firms versus startups—and the relative merits of various opportunities for action, such as investments in research, diagnostics, disease management, consumer incentives, and other areas of interest. But perhaps the most salient survey revelations exposed significant concerns about the current and future value—the quality of outcomes relative to dollars spent—of healthcare provided in the United States. Looking at quality in isolation, senior leaders were almost evenly divided in their sentiment. While 14 percent had a strongly positive sentiment and believed care was excellent or very good and pulling ahead relative to other advanced, industrialized nations, 20 percent had a strongly negative outlook. Those with a strongly negative sentiment believed that healthcare quality in the United States was starting from only a fair or poor position and falling behind other countries.
Adding the dimension of cost, however, unearthed strong concerns about value. Most noticeably, only 1 percent of respondents held the strongly positive sentiment that the United States could significantly increase value through the combination of quality pulling ahead of other industrialized nations and healthcare costs growing more slowly than general inflation. In contrast, the strongly negative sentiment that quality would fall behind other countries while healthcare costs grew faster than general inflation was held by 22 percent of respondents. They believed relative costs would increase without improving quality, or quality would decline without a reduction in relative costs.