Study Reveals Patient-Doctor Disconnect on Healthy Living

Americans’ Health Behaviors Out of Sync with Their Intentions

  • Most Americans give themselves ”A” or “B” grades, while doctors give Americans low grades on personal health
  • Many Americans say they would rather live in pain than visit their doctor – and prioritize household chores over healthy living
  • Most Americans see health of others on wrong track – but not their own
  • Many Americans have an easier time answering non-health-related questions than facts about their own health
  • Study reveals opportunities for improvement in patient-doctor communications
  • GE provides new digital tips and tools to help Americans take ownership of their health priorities (Graphic: Business Wire)

FAIRFIELD, Conn.--()--(NYSE: GE) – When it comes to daily health activities such as diet and exercise, Americans and their doctors may not always see eye to eye. According to the new GE Better Health Study conducted with Cleveland Clinic and Ochsner Health System, 92 percent of healthcare professionals (HCPs) surprisingly give Americans far lower grades, “C” or lower, on managing their personal health than Americans give themselves. As the first in a series that will examine healthy living attitudes and behaviors, the study is part of GE’s healthymagination initiative, which seeks to provide better health for more people through technology and innovation.

The GE Better Health Study also asked Americans and HCPs about health and healthy living behaviors and the current state of patient-doctor relationships. The answers revealed that when it comes to daily health activities such as diet and exercise, Americans are not doing as much as they say they are to stay healthy.

For instance, 70 percent of Americans say they have at some point taken actions to avoid going to the doctor, including walking around in pain or asking a friend for medical advice, rather than addressing their health issues. When Americans do go for a checkup, 77 percent of HCPs say one-fourth or more of their patients omit facts or lie to them about their personal health.

“Lifestyle changes that include avoidance of tobacco, regular physical activity, food choices and portion size, and managing stress could decrease healthcare costs more than 40 percent,” said Michael F. Roizen, M.D. Chief Wellness Officer at Cleveland Clinic. As a starting point, get active!"


A promising finding in the study is that eight of 10 respondents said eating healthy and exercising regularly are very important to healthy living, and 71 percent said they have a plan for living healthy. However, while one-third give themselves an “A” grade on daily health specifics including exercise (34 percent), eating healthy (33 percent) and managing stress (30 percent), more than 90 percent of HCPs give them a “C” or lower on these same health specifics.

“It’s crucial for people to take ownership of their health if they want to maintain it. This is not just a question of motivation; we’re seeing a significant doctor-patient communication gap,” said Dr. Joseph Bisordi, Chief Medical Officer, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans. “Health care professionals are eager to help people achieve better health.”


Less than half of Americans know their current cholesterol levels, only one-third know their daily caloric intake, and just 29 percent know their blood glucose level. There is also uncertainty about preventive screenings that could prove life-saving down the road: Nearly half of men (42 percent) find it easier to answer how old residents need to be in their state for a driver’s license versus at what age they should get their first prostate exam, and 30 percent of women say the same about mammograms. In addition, respondents have an easier time answering non-health-related questions than facts about their own health:

  • More people (49 percent) know when to change the oil in their car than their current cholesterol level (43 percent).
  • More know how many vacation days they have left (47 percent) versus the number of calories they ate yesterday (43 percent).

Though Americans say time is their biggest challenge to living healthier (33 percent), they spend more time each year cleaning their house or thinking about living in a cleaner house (50 percent) than taking care of their personal health (44 percent).


In response to the study findings, GE’s now offers a suite of solutions to help patients partner with physicians to improve their health.

  • The Better Health Conversation, developed with WebMD, works to ensure that patients have both the personal information and questions needed to get more out of physician visits. An online “chat” walks users through a series of questions to ask their doctor about their health and identifies information patients should have before they arrive at their doctor’s office.
  • The free mobile application “Morsel” provides consumers with a manageable and rewarding program that lets them take a simple step toward better health each day. The application, available for iPhone and Android, suggests easy-to-do health activities and explains why taking these steps is good for your health.
  • The Sharing Healthy Ideas platform encourages users to share health news, features and blogs on a variety of sites with others via email, Twitter or by sending to their phone.

“We know Americans want to live healthier, but they are looking for a path to follow,” says Mike Barber, Vice President, healthymagination “Healthymagination is about better health for more people. We’re bringing innovations to consumers so they can refocus on their health and make healthy living activities part of their daily routine. Our goal is for consumers and physicians to be more effective partners through better communication, and a system that encourages continuous learning and improvement.”


To promote the use of these tools and build awareness about ways Americans can take charge of their health, two-time Olympic champion and five-time World Champion figure skater Michelle Kwan will kick off the campaign in New York on Feb. 16. A strong advocate for Americans playing an active role in their own healthy lifestyles, Kwan will bring the study findings to life for consumers and encourage Americans to think about their health in new ways in 2010. In addition, Kwan will join Olympic Gold Medalists Scott Hamilton, Angela Ruggiero (current defenseman for U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team) and Martin Brodeur (current goalie for Team Canada Ice Hockey) will be in Vancouver talking to consumers about the importance of healthy living.

For more details about healthymagination, visit Follow the conversation today on Twitter at @GEhealthy.

About the GE Better Health Study

Strategy One conducted a telephone study of 2,004 Americans aged 18 years and older, in addition to interviewing an oversample of 125 people in Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston and San Francisco. A second parallel study was conducted online among 1,000 healthcare professionals, including 800 physicians, nurses, pharmacists and dieticians, in addition to interviewing an oversample of 200 physicians. The national sample of consumers is census-representative of gender, age, region, income, education and ethnicity. Both the consumer and healthcare professional studies were approximately 15 minutes in duration, utilizing computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) technology. Both studies were conducted between December 8 and 11, 2009.

About GE

GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that's built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.

For more information, visit the company’s Web site at GE is imagination at work.

About GE’s healthymagination Initiative

Launched in May 2009, GE’s healthymagination initiative is focused on four critical needs: low-cost technology; healthcare IT; innovation accessible to all; and consumer-driven healthcare. GE has committed that by 2015 it will:

  • Invest $3 billion in research and development to launch at least 100 innovations that will help deliver better care to more people at lower cost.
  • Provide $2 billion in financing and $1 billion in technology to bring healthcare information technology to rural and underserved areas.
  • Reduce the cost of procedures that use GE technologies and services by 15 percent and develop products tailored to underserved regions of the world.
  • Reach 100 million more people every year with services and technologies essential for health.

More information at

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 7,600 nurses at Cleveland Clinic represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine regional hospitals in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and Cleveland Clinic Canada. In 2008, there were more than 4.2 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 165,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 80 countries. Visit Cleveland Clinic at

About Ochsner Health System

Ochsner Health System ( is a non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system dedicated to patient care, research and education. The system includes seven hospitals and over 35 health centers located throughout Southeast Louisiana. Ochsner employs more than 750 physicians in 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner has been listed as one of the "Best Places to Work" by New Orleans City Business since 2005 and received the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 14 consecutive years. Ochsner was ranked as "Best" Hospital by U.S. News and World Report in 2007 and 2009. Ochsner has 11,000 employees system-wide.

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GE Corporate
Leigh Farris, 203-551-1863 (cell)
Lindsay Anthony, 212-704-4585


GE Corporate
Leigh Farris, 203-551-1863 (cell)
Lindsay Anthony, 212-704-4585