Sunday, March 4, 2012

Doctor Surveys Reach Similar Conclusions About Health Reform

Everybody takes surveys. Whoever makes a statement about human behavior has engaged in a survey of some sort.

Father Andrew Greeley(born 1928), Catholic priest, sociologist, journalist, and author

March 4, 2012 - Two days ago, I wrote a blog “Doctors Are in A Bad Mood.” To my astonishment, it attracted a record number of “hits” –“page views “ in Internet parlance.

The blog was a re-release of a Doctors Company report of a survey of its 71,000 members. The Doctors Company is the nation’s largest medical liability company. More than 5000 doctors responded to the survey. Nine of ten said they would not recommend medicine as a profession, and 43% said they planned to retire within 5 years.

Why such an astonishing response – 20 times that of any single previous blog? What was the hot button issue magnet? Was it concern over the impending doctor shortage and inability to find a doctor? Was it affirmation of what readers already knew – that the health reform law was demoralizing doctors ? Was it the extent and accuracy of the survey?

I should not have been surprised. Every doctor survey to date- by and Athenahealth, Thomas Reuters, and the Physician Foundation has reported the same results – disillusionment among doctors, disinclination to recommend medicine as a profession, decreased acceptance of new Medicare and Medicaid patients, and mounting desires to retire early, change careers, and leave private practice.

Prior to the Doctors Company survey, the Physicians Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by 19 state medical societies, had done the most extensive survey. It appeared in 2010 and involved 100,000 physicians with 2400 responding, In a 110 page white paper “Health Reform and the Decline of Physician Private Practice,” The Foundation examined effects of the health reform law on U.S. physicians.

The effects were:

” 1 )The majority of physicians responded unfavorably to passage of health reform.

2) The majority of physicians believes health reform would increase patient loads while decreasing financial viability of their practices.

3 The majority of physicians planned to alter their practices in ways that would reduce patient access to their practices, by retiring, working part-time, or taking other steps.

4) Physician practice styles would become increasingly less homogeneous . The full-time , independent practitioners accepting third party payment would largely by supplanted by employed, part-time, locum tenens, and concierge physicians.”

Physician surveys to date indicate the health law has set off a chain reaction of physician behavioral changes, hospital employment, direct-pay practice models, consolidation into large organizations, non-acceptance of Medicare and Medicaid patients, and abandonment of independent private practices.

What these changes forbode for the future, I will leave up to readers of my blog to decide.

Tweet: Surveys indicate physicians are leaving private practice to alternative forms of practice in response to health reform pressures.


Pharmaceutical Research said...

So informative and comprehensive report.

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