Physicians are pondering changes in their practices

June 1, 2011

Worried about financial pressure and the effects of healthcare reform, an increasing number of physicians are considering making changes in how they practice medicine.

Worried about financial pressures and the effects of healthcare reform, an increasing number of physicians are considering making changes in how they practice medicine, according to a national survey of physicians conducted by the Physicians Foundation. Among the changes physicians are contemplating are switching to concierge or cash practices (16%), taking locum tenens positions (14%), selling medical practices to accept hospital jobs (11%), or retiring (16%). Only about one-fourth of the 2,379 survey respondents, who included ob/gyns, hospitalists, family physicians, internists, pediatricians, and other specialists, plan to continue practicing as they have been.

Physicians also indicated that they have strong negative feelings about the new healthcare reform law, believing that patient care will suffer in the months and years ahead. More than half of respondents (60%) said that healthcare reform will compel them to close or significantly restrict or close their practices to Medicaid and Medicare patients. In addition, although more than half of physicians said healthcare reform will cause their patient volumes to increase, 69% indicated that they will no longer have the time or resources to see additional patients in their practices while still maintaining quality of care. Indeed, more than half of those surveyed said healthcare reform will cause them to spend less time with patients.

Experts cautioned about generalizing about physician attitudes and plans based on survey results because the survey had only a 2.4% response rate.

Elliott VS. Uncertainty prompts doctors to rethink private practice, according to survey. American Medical News Web site. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/12/13/bisc1213.htm. Published December 30, 2010. Accessed May 20, 2011.