Top Issues Physicians are Facing

The top issues in health care that will affect physicians and patients in 2013 and five more complaints doctors had about problems affecting their relationship with patients in 2012.

New beginnings always warrant a look back and a peek ahead. This is particularly necessary in the health care industry, which is constantly undergoing changes, for better or worse.

Last year was a big year with the Supreme Court upholding the president’s health care reform law. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) won’t be fully implemented until 2014, there is still a lot of uncertainty about it, which has physicians on edge.

“2013 will be a watershed year for the U.S. health care system,” Lou Goodman, PhD, president of The Physicians Foundation and chief executive officer of the Texas Medical Association, said in a statement. “It is clear that lawmakers need to work closely with physicians to ensure that we are well prepared to meet the demands of 30 million new patients in the healthcare system and to effectively address the impending doctor shortage and growing patient access crisis.”

The ongoing uncertainty over ACA is the number one issue that will impact physicians and patients in 2013, according to the Foundation. A 2012 survey found that 77% of physicians are pessimistic about the future of medicine and a key factor was ACA uncertainty. Plus, ACA introduces more than 30 million new patients to a system that might not be able to handle such a large influx.

Another concern was continued consolidation. More and more physicians are seeking employment by hospitals. According to a July survey by physician search and consulting firm Merritt Hawkins, only 1% of recruiting assignments was for solo practitioners, down drastically from 22% in 2004. As more hospitals acquire private practices there could be unintended consequences to access and cost of care.

Although 2013 is going to be tough, it doesn’t mean 2012 was any easier. Becker’s Hospital Review covered the top issues affecting the physician-patient relationship that physicians have complained about.

5. Availability and quality of specialists

Primary care physicians are beginning to go out of network to find quality specialists and subspecialists that their networks don’t have. Unfortunately, this will likely worsen since it is related to the physician shortage.

4. Work-life balance

Always an issue for physicians, workloads will continue to increase. Only, physicians won’t find they have more patient care to do, but more administrative duties.

3. Poor communication related to patient information

It doesn’t matter if a physician is working in a small market or a large one — either way they have trouble getting patient information from hospitals. Which brings us to the next issue.

2. Electronic medical records (EMRs)

Although implementation for EMRs is increasing, some hospitals haven’t fully implemented the systems, causing issues accessing patient information. Plus, once the systems are fully implemented, physicians are complaining they need more training.

1. Financial concerns

Health care isn’t necessarily a profitable business for many physicians. They struggle with running a business and making money. Plus, they have to deal with decreasing Medicare and Medicaid payments. A survey in October revealed that 74% of family medicine physicians felt they did not have financial control.

To see the full list, click here.

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Top Five Issues Impacting Physicians and Patients in 2013 - The Physicians Foundation