Practice climate continues to decline

July 1, 2006

Over the past 10 years, a national index used to quantify physicians' practice environments has been deteriorating. The Physician Practice Environment Index, published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, has shown that practice conditions for physicians are getting more and more difficult, according to American Medical News (5/15/06).

Over the past 10 years, a national index used to quantify physicians' practice environments has been deteriorating. The Physician Practice Environment Index, published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, has shown that practice conditions for physicians are getting more and more difficult, according to American Medical News (5/15/06).

From 1995 to 2005, the national index total fell from a high of 101.8 in 1995 to 77.2 in 2005. Part of the reason for the drop may be attributed to the cost of operating a practice, which rose 4.7% nationally. Expenses-such as wages, rental rates, and medical supplies-increased, as did medical liability insurance premiums.

The index is based on several professional and personal factors, including housing costs, the number of medical school applications, average physician income, time spent on patient care, as well as the costs of maintaining a practice.