Health Care Climate Still Detrimental to Care

Physicians continue to have a poor outlook on health care, continuing to view the current health care climate as detrimental to care and with more expecting their financial situations to be worse in one year.

For the most part, surveys and polls have revealed that physicians have a negative outlook on health care. They’ve even expressed that if given the chance to go back, they wouldn’t choose to be a doctor again.

The Physician Sentiment Index from athenahealth and Epocrates revealed that physicians continue to view the current health care climate as detrimental to care. However, the responses show that fewer physicians called the climate “very detrimental” with more calling it “somewhat detrimental.”

Although a report from the American Medical Group Association revealed that more providers reported stronger financial performances for the first time in almost a decade, the physician respondents for the Physician Sentiment Index are not optimistic for the future.

Slightly less believe their financial situation will be better in one year while slightly more think it will be somewhat worse next year. However, most respondents (42%) simply believe finances will be the same in one year.

And while 78% are not optimistic about the future of independent practice, that’s a slight decline from 2012’s 81%. Now, slightly more respondents are unsure about the future of independent practice. Meanwhile, independent physicians (65%) are much more confident than employed physicians (55%) that the quality of medicine will decline in five years.

The survey also revealed that physicians’ confidence in their practice’s ability to transition to ICD-10 has decreased as the deadline approaches.

The report also shows that physicians lost some confidence in EMRs and EHRs. While 2013 responses were mostly the same as 2012 responses when it came to things like agreeing if EHRs/EMRs improve access to data, bill collections and reduce medical errors, fewer respondents in 2013 said that EHRs/EMRs improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Slightly more respondents said that EHR/EMR systems are expensive to purchase and install, but they feel less pressure to stay on top of changing government requirements and incentives.

In 2013, fewer of the physician respondents identified their practices as being independent or being hospital/IDN/academic-affiliated and more reported being hospital/network-owned. More were primary care physicians (30% vs. 24).