63% of Docs Are Pessimistic About Their Job Future, And More Survey Results

America’s physicians are changing their practice patterns in ways that will inhibit patient access to care, and they are largely disengaged from the mechanisms of healthcare reform such as value-based payments, accountable care organizations, and electronic medical records…

“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.”

—Winston Churchill

America’s physicians are changing their practice patterns in ways that will inhibit patient access to care, and they are largely disengaged from the mechanisms of healthcare reform such as value-based payments, accountable care organizations, and electronic medical records…

…so finds The Physicians Foundation in its recently completed biennial survey of physicians. The survey of more than 17,000 doctors was conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a leading physician search and consulting firm.

“Many physicians are dissatisfied with the current state of the medical practice environment and they are opting out of traditional patient care roles,” says Walker Ray, MD, president of The Physicians Foundation. “The implications of evolving physician practice patterns for both patient access and the implementation of healthcare reform are profound.”

The 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives is packed with interesting, troubling, and telling data and about the state of medical practice in the nation. Here are a few pertinent facts:

• 48% of physicians plan to retire, cut-back on the number of patients they see or hours they work, seek non-clinical, administrative roles or take other steps likely to inhibit patient access to care.

• 54% of physicians describe their morale as somewhat or very negative.

• 63% of physicians are pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.

• 49% of physicians would not recommend medicine as a career to their children.

• The state with the highest morale among its physicians is Nebraska; lowest doctor morale is in Texas.

• Independent doctors see about 20% more patients than employed physicians.

• South Dakota has the highest percent of independent doctors; Vermont has the lowest.

• 43% of physicians have their compensation tied to quality care measures.

• Only 20% of physicians are familiar with Medicare’s new reimbursement system (MACRA).

• Only 6% of physicians say ICD-10 has increased efficiency in their practices.

• Physicians spend 21% of their time on non-clinical paper work duties.

• Only 14% of physicians say they have the time necessary to provide the highest standards of care.

• 72% of physicians say third party intrusions detract from the quality of care they can provide.

• 80% of physicians are overextended or are at capacity, with no time to see additional patients.

• Only 33% of physicians now identify as private practice owners, down from 49% in 2012, while 58% identify as employees, up from 44% in 2012.

• 66% of physicians do not believe hospital employment of physicians will enhance quality of care or decrease costs.

• 50% of physicians who are themselves employed by hospitals, do not see hospital employment of physicians as a positive trend.

• Only 25% of physicians say EMRs have improved efficiency in their practices while 54% say EMRs have detracted from efficiency.

• Only 17% of physicians are in solo practice, down from 25% in 2012.

• 27% of physicians do not see Medicare patients, or limit the number they see.

• 36% of physicians do not see Medicaid patients, or limit the number they see.

• 26% of physicians are members of the AMA and 78% are members of a national medical specialty society.

• When asked what are the most satisfying things about medical practice, the top answers were patient relationships (74%) and intellectual stimulation (59%).

• The average doctor sees about 21 patients per day.

• 48% of physicians give Obamacare a D or F grade.