Doctor with a patient

MITRE-Harris Poll: Many Patients Feel Ignored or Doubted When Seeking Medical Treatment  

New Survey Captures Patients’ Perception and Experience Navigating Healthcare

MCLEAN, Va., & BEDFORD, Mass., Dec. 20, 2022—A new MITRE-Harris Poll Survey on Patient Experience finds 52 percent of individuals in the United States feel their symptoms are “ignored, dismissed, or not believed” when seeking medical treatment. That number rises to 6-in-10 within the Hispanic community.  

The polling also revealed that more than half of Blacks and Hispanics feel the “healthcare provider is biased against me based on their attitude, words, or actions,” contributing to a 4-in-10 average across all demographics. Fifty percent (50%) of respondents also reported “a healthcare provider assuming something about me without asking me.”

Additionally, the results indicate that several groups are all much more likely to experience bias, doubt, or language barriers when seeking treatment. These include individuals identifying as a person with a disability or having a chronic health condition, those responsible for managing access to healthcare for a family member or friend, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“These findings confirm unacceptable disparities in patient experience along racial and ethnic lines, for the LGBTQ+ community, and for those who are managing chronic health conditions or navigating the world with disabilities,” said Juliette Forstenzer Espinosa, senior Medicare, Medicaid, and Affordable Care Act Marketplace strategist, MITRE. “And these categories are, of course, intersectional. There’s no question there is work to do to better serve all populations at the point-of-care.”

Rob Jekielek, managing director, The Harris Poll, said, “With the evolution of online patient portals and digital support tools, we have seen stronger usage among those who need to navigate the system the most—individuals with a chronic illness or disability and those who manage the healthcare needs of others. However, this has not translated to substantially lower frustration with the healthcare system, including understanding of coverage and claims. Confusion and uncertainty are even higher among the majority of Americans who use the system sporadically, or only when specific needs arise.”

Additional key findings from the MITRE-Harris Poll Survey include:

  • When consumers have a concern or question about a bill, they struggle with whom to call.
    Fifty-four percent (54%) of insured individuals in the United States say they don’t know whom to contact if they have an issue with a bill or claim. Individuals self-identifying as disabled or dealing with chronic illness, caregivers, Hispanics, and younger generations are more likely to say they do know whom to contact if they have issues.
  • Patients are overwhelmingly using portals.
    Nearly 9-in-10 insured individuals use online patient portals more often for test results (70%), appointments (64%), and medical records (63%) than for other applications, such as finding a healthcare provider (58%), reviewing insurance benefits (54%), managing prescriptions (54%), or filing a health insurance claim (37%). Insured Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) groups are more likely than white individuals to use patient portals to find a healthcare provider or file a claim.
  • Patients seeking some specialists may wait two months or more for a visit.
    While most Americans can schedule an imaging appointment or a visit with their primary care provider or general practitioner in less than two weeks, 1-in-5 say it can take two months or more to meet with specialized professionals such as mental health providers, specialty physicians, dentists, or optometrists.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States, September 27-29, 2022, among 2,047 adults (ages 18 and over) by The Harris Poll on behalf of MITRE via the Harris On Demand omnibus product.

Editor’s Notes

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations, and social sentiment since 1963, and is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and guidance to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com.

About MITRE

MITRE’s mission-driven teams are dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Through our public-private partnerships and federally funded R&D centers, we work across government and in partnership with industry to tackle challenges to the safety, stability, and well-being of our nation. Learn more at mitre.org.

Media: media@mitre.org