Objectives: In a resource-constrained reality, physicians are facing polar demands—those of healthcare managements to adopt cost-conscious behaviors and those of ethical standards that obligate physicians to consider only their patients' best interests. In our study, we aimed to determine the attitudes, practices, and knowledge of healthcare costs among Israeli physicians.
Methods: A questionnaire was developed and mailed to a representative sample of physicians in Israel. The overall response rate was 51 percent. The study reviewed self-reported levels of cost consciousness in practice, attitudes, obstacles related to cost containment, and knowledge of the costs of medical resources.
Results: Forty-two percent of the physicians reported high levels of cost consciousness in their daily practice; 70 percent reported greater current cost consciousness in comparison to 5 years ago; 76 percent of the responses legitimized institutional demands for cost containment. Although 83 percent of the physicians that responded expressed the belief that economic thinking was inherently the role of management, only 39 percent thought it was part of the physician's role. It was found that predominant predictors of agreement to cost consciousness concepts were employment by a community health plan, a managerial position, participation in health economics seminars, and male gender.
Conclusions: Cost consciousness among physicians is related to a broad array of parameters. Interventions must emphasize the benefits of evidence-based medicine as an anchor for both cost containment and quality care, as well as providing assistance to physicians in accepting economic decision-making as part of their professional role.