Just when it starts to look like we might finally expand health coverage and access in this country, we get word that 49% of physicians responding to a recent survey say they plan to reduce their panel sizes or quit practice altogether due to poor working conditions.
The Physician’s Foundation sent the survey to 250,000 primary care physicians and 50,000 specialists. It received 12,000 responses.
The results showed widespread frustration—particularly among primary care physicians—due to burdensome administrative responsibilities, reimbursement delays and governmental regulations.
– 94% said time spent on clerical duties increased in the last 3 years
– 63% said this caused them to spend less time with patients
– 82% said their practices would be unsustainable with further Medicare cuts
– 60% said they would not recommend medicine as a career
– 17% said their practices’ financial position was healthy and profitable
– 45% said they would retire today if they could
“Going into this project we generally knew about the shortage of physicians; what we didn’t know is how much worse it could get over the next few years,” said Lou Goodman, President of the Physicians’ Foundation.
News of PCP dissatisfaction is not lost on students preparing to graduate US medical schools, where only 2% have indicated plans to enter primary care. That’s down from 9% in 1990.
The American Medical Association used this and other data to estimate that the US will be 35,000 PCPs short by 2025.
And strung-out PCPs don’t want to hear it but we’re more likely to empower nurse practitioners, utilize new provider venues like retail clinics and recruit more foreign medical graduates than we are to fix the fundamental issues raised by the surveys.