The Year Ahead: Costs of Prescriptions, Treating Obesity, and AI in Healthcare

December 19, 2023

The Year Ahead: Costs of Prescriptions, Treating Obesity, and AI in Healthcare

iPrescribe Survey Finds What’s on Patients’ Minds for 2024

Rockville, Md. December 19, 2023 – While losing weight is a perennial fixture on Americans’ New Year resolutions, new treatment options may make it a reality for more people, according to research by iPrescribe, the mobile e-prescribing app by health technology pioneer DrFirst.

The survey of 1,008 consumers is part of a series exploring experiences and behaviors related to healthcare and medications. This survey focused on Americans’ perceptions and intentions about their health priorities, opinions about whether their doctor should use AI in decision-making, concerns about healthcare costs in the new year, and what would make them shop for a new doctor.

Health Priorities

Exercising more and losing weight rank at the top of Americans’ health priorities for 2024, followed closely by improving sleep and mental health:

  • Exercising regularly (45%)
  • Losing weight (37%)
  • Improving sleep (33%)
  • Mental health (33%)

Although only 13% say they currently take prescription medication for weight loss, that number may grow significantly in the coming years, as 18% say they expect to start taking the new generation of weight loss drugs (such as Wegovy or Zepbound) in 2024. And the vast majority (78%) believe that more Americans will also do so in the future, citing:

  • It will become the norm in treating weight disorders (41%)
  • It isn’t as extreme as surgical interventions (37%)
  • People can lose weight while getting other health benefits from the medication (36%)
  • It’s hard to follow a healthy diet (35%)
  • Diet and exercise don’t work well enough (30%)
  • It will become an affordable option for more people because, over time, the cost of these medications will come down (30%)

“With the health risks that come from obesity, including a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and death by any cause, losing weight is a valuable health goal – yet it is typically very hard for most people to achieve and maintain,” said Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A., Chief Medical Officer of DrFirst. “These new-generation drug options are providing patients with additional, highly effective options to treat obesity. While there are risks of unwanted side effects with any medication, this class of medications is showing very promising benefits in other areas, including reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

Other prescriptions people expect to start taking in the coming year include those for:

  • Anxiety or depression (23%)
  • Improving sleep (20%)
  • Lowering blood pressure (20%)

Artificial Intelligence and Self-Diagnosis

Most Americans (67%) are fans of doctors using AI to help with diagnoses and prescription choices, although others say “No” (37%). Those who see the value say:

  • Yes, if it’s used to help and not actually make decisions (38%)
  • Always! There is too much important information to rely on human brain power alone (25%)

“Most people appreciate AI’s potential to support healthcare providers for treatment and care decisions, to serve as the proverbial co-pilot to clinical care,” said Banas. “The key is using AI that is trained and guided by clinicians for accuracy and safety.”

Over two in five Americans (41%) say they go online to “self-diagnose” health issues. While most are using search engines to do so, over a quarter say they use generative AI and social media. People report using:

  • Search engines, such as Google or Bing (65%)
  • Information on their healthcare provider’s website (38%)
  • Cell phone apps (31%)
  • Generative AI programs, such as ChatGPT or Google Bard (27%)
  • Social media, such as Facebook, Reddit, or X (27%)

Costs of Healthcare

Americans are concerned that the cost of their prescriptions will go up in the coming year:

  • Very concerned (37%)
  • Somewhat concerned (40%)
  • Not concerned (23%)

If they cannot afford their prescriptions, 70% of Americans say they would ask their doctor for a less expensive alternative, and nearly half (45%) say they would look for coupons or copay assistance programs. About 20% say they would take fewer doses than prescribed (21%) and/or stop taking the medication (18%).

Two out of every five consumers (40%) are facing a change in their health insurance plan in the coming year, and cost ranks as the highest factor in deciding among plans. Other deciding factors include:

  • Affordability of the monthly fee, copays, and out-of-pocket maximum (45%)
  • Current doctors are “in-network” (30%)
  • Affordability of prescription copays (16%)

Even as nearly half (45%) of Americans say a change in insurance plans would make them look for a new doctor, about the same amount (43%) say they would stick with their current doctor no matter the cost, and half as many (23%) say they would do so if they can afford it. Other reasons for looking for a new doctor include:

  • Doesn’t take my health concerns seriously (44%)
  • Unpleasant bedside manner (34%)
  • Difficulty getting a response when I have a question or need a prescription (32%)
  • Takes too long to get an appointment (29%)

“While not every reason that might send patients to a new doctor can be addressed by technology, many can,” said Banas. “For example, tech that helps doctors get back to their patients quickly to answer questions or e-prescribe even if they are not in the office can help strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.”


A national online survey of 1,008 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of iPrescribe by DrFirst in December 2023. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.


About iPrescribe and DrFirst

iPrescribe by DrFirst is the industry-leading mobile prescribing app used by doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to quickly and safely prescribe and renew prescriptions anytime, anywhere. Since 2000, healthcare IT pioneer DrFirst has empowered providers and patients to achieve better health through intelligent medication management. We improve healthcare efficiency and effectiveness by enhancing e-prescribing workflows, improving medication history, optimizing clinical data usability, and helping patients start and stay on therapy. In the last few years, DrFirst has won over 25 awards for excellence and innovation, including winning Gold in the prestigious Edison Awards in 2023, recognizing our game-changing use of clinical-grade AI to streamline time-consuming healthcare workflows and prevent medication errors. Our solutions are used by more than 350,000 prescribers, 71,000 pharmacies, 270 EHRs and health information systems, and over 2,000 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, visit and follow @DrFirst.


Media contact:

Erin Jundef