Survey findings based upon responses from 17,236 physicians (one million data points) from a 2016 Physician survey conducted by Merritt Hawkins regularly for the Physicians Foundation are now revealed.
1. 54% of physicians rate their morale as somewhat or very negative. Only 37% describe their feelings about the future of the medical profession as positive. 49% often or always experience feelings of burn-out and same % would not recommend the career to their children.
2. 80% of physicians are overextended or at capacity, with no time to see additional patients. 72% indicate that external factors such as third party authorizations significantly detract from the quality of care they are able to provide.27% do not see Medicare patients, or limit the number they see. Physicians spend 21% of their time on non-clinical paperwork, the equivalent of 168,000 physician FTEs not engaged in clinical activities.
3. 20% of physicians practice in groups of 101 doctors or more, up from 12% in 2012.17% of physicians are in solo practice, down from 25% in 2012. Employed physicians see 19% fewer patients than practice owners. Only 33% of physicians identify as independent practice owners or partners, down from 48.5% in 2012.
4. 48% of physicians plan to cut-back on hours, retire, take a non-clinical job, switch to “concierge” medicine, or take other steps limiting patient access to their practices. Only 43% have their compensation tied to quality or value.
5. Only 44% of physicians believe hospital employment of doctors is a positive trend.
6. Only 20% are familiar with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
7. Only 11% of physicians say electronic health records (EHRs) have improved patient interaction, while 60% say they have detracted from patient interaction. Only 6% indicate ICD-10 has improved efficiency in their practices, while 42.5% say it has detracted from efficiency.
Comments: There are some caveats. 1/3 of respondents were Primary Care and 2/3 were surgical specialists. Average age was 51 years and 60% respondents were in practices < 10 physicians. While the pessimism is not surprising, to me it is a little much. Physicians I know in my city are aggressive about sending their children into medicine. I also encourage friend's children to embrace medicine. The trend towards hospital employment may be slowing down. See here.
If they want to make a boatload of money for little work, then medicine may not be for them. Millenials will deal with issues much better I think. They may not have the expectations like Xers and Baby Boomers.