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Physicians Pessimistic About the Future, Survey Finds

Many docs likely to retire early in next 3 years (Mar. 21)

According to a survey of 600 U.S. physicians conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in Washington, D.C., most doctors are pessimistic about the future of medicine and consider many changes in the market to be a threat.

Forty percent of the survey respondents reported that their take-home pay had decreased in 2011–2012, and 60% said it is likely that many physicians will retire earlier than planned within the next 1 to 3 years.

Nearly half (49%) of the physicians think that capitation will replace fee-for-service payments in the next 3 years, but few (26%) believe that the sustainable growth rate (SGR) mechanism will be repealed during the same period.

Among the survey’s other key findings, most physicians believe that:

  • The performance of the U.S. health care system is suboptimal, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a good start for addressing issues of access and cost.
  • The future of the medical profession may be in jeopardy as it loses clinical autonomy and compensation.
  • Medical liability (malpractice) reform is a major concern.
  • Health insurance exchanges are unlikely to be ready for enrollment by the 2013 deadline.
  • Physicians are likely to increasingly compete with mid-level professionals in primary care.
  • Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements may be problematic, prompting many physicians to limit or close their practices to these enrollees.
  • The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by physicians is expected to increase.
  • Connectivity with patients using online or mobile technologies and personal health records is expected to become increasingly important.

“New relationships between physicians and hospitals, health insurance plans, retail pharmacies, employers, and medical device and drug manufacturers are emerging,” the survey report concludes. “A transparent business relationship built on mutual respect and trust, with incentives appropriately aligned, is key.”

Source: 2013 Survey of U.S. Physicians; March 2013.

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