Foundations team up to survey residents about health care

Five foundations are teaming up to examine patient views of health care, surveying Connecticut residents to get a sense of how good health care is in the state, whether residents have ready access to high-quality care, and how insurance impacts the quality of care residents receive.

The research will be based on similar national surveys and will examine patient views of care at the state and county levels. The results are expected to be released in early 2013 in a report called “The State of Health for the State of Connecticut.”

The effort has been developed by the Aetna Foundation, the Connecticut Health Foundation, the Donaghue Foundation, the Foundation for Community Health, and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research will conduct the randomized telephone survey, which will include 4,000 Connecticut adults and take place over a 12-week period in the spring. Interviews will be conducted in English and Spanish, and the survey sampling will reflect the state’s population demographics. The study is expected to cost $379,000.

Questions will address patients’ experiences with primary care, including whether patients have a regular doctor, how easily they can make appointments and how well their care is coordinated with specialists and other providers. Other questions will address the patient-doctor relationship and how well patients’ questions are answered and their needs and preferences respected.

The survey is also aimed at finding out whether patients receive timely preventive care and their perceptions of the care they get. There will also be questioned aimed at identifying racial and ethnic disparities in health care and outcomes, and the effect education, income and insurance coverage have on the quality of care patients receive.

Leaders of the foundations said the survey results will be used to create a database that researchers and community groups can use, develop policy briefs, identify gaps in health care and potential solutions, and quality improvement efforts.

“Patient experiences offer a unique perspective on health and the performance of the health care system, especially for people of color, low-income families and other underserved populations,” Gillian Barclay, vice president of the Aetna Foundation, which spearheaded the project, said in a statement. “By surveying patients here in Connecticut, we can develop a strong repository of data to guide nonprofits, public agencies and practitioners in their efforts to improve the quality of health care in our state.”