While physicians remain happy about their choice of a medical career, that doesn’t mean they are content to be controlled by government mandates and declining reimbursements.
In its annual Great American Physician Survey, sponsored by Kareo, Physicians Practice polled physicians nationwide on their medical careers, their personal lives, and the politics affecting both work and home. In this year’s survey, 1,311 physicians responded that they remain happy being a physician — 26 percent rated their happiness as an “8” on a scale of 1 to 10 — but also indicated a growing dissatisfaction with fee-for-service medicine.
Of the 1,311 respondents, 35 percent indicated they either work at or would consider switching to a “concierge” practice, and charging patients a membership fee for services. Fifty-three percent of physicians indicated they would consider or are already working in a direct-pay practice that does not accept insurance at all. Both questions indicate a growing interest by physicians to escape from federal mandates, payer interference, and other issues which could impede treating patients. When asked about their biggest frustration with being a physician today, 39 percent indicated “too much third-party interference.”
The 2014 survey also examines aspects of defensive medicine and personal health; inquiring whether or not physicians order additional (and perhaps unnecessary tests) to avoid malpractice suits, and asking how they rate their own fitness, as examples for their patients.PhysiciansPractice.com, the leading online community for physicians and practice management professionals, also offers in-depth reporting on some of the other survey questions, including:
- An infographic on physician happiness, including sentiments on what lead physicians to choose their specialty and any regrets they have in the present
- A slideshow of 18 work-life balance tips for physicians, to help the 70 percent of respondents who said they don’t have as much personal time as they think they should
- Resources for physicians interested in pursuing the direct-pay practice model
- A poll on how the Affordable Care Act is affecting morale at medical practices.
“In our past surveys, a larger majority of physicians always showed a hit of skepticism toward concierge and direct-pay practices as unethical or not something they would pursue,” said Keith L. Martin, group editorial director for Physicians Practice. “But now, with growing stressors from flat payer reimbursements to healthcare reform mandates, physicians are feeling pressed to maintain quality patient care and keep their practice running. The bottom line, as our survey indicates, is that these professionals love medicine and they love helping others — it’s just the path to get there is rockier than in the past.”