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Survey: Docs Want to Keep Pace with New Patient Demands, Technology

January 18, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A recent survey of 500 physicians revealed that nearly 9 in 10 respondents ranked “achieving work-life balance” as their most, or second most-important resolution for 2017. Similarly, 69 percent ranked “staying current with technology” as their most, or second most-important resolution.

The data, from online researcher Toluna’s healthcare panel, surveyed physicians’ goals and challenges for 2017. Of those surveyed that reported making New Year’s resolutions, 87 percent of respondents ranked “achieving work-life balance as their most, or second most-important resolution. Similarly, 69 percent ranked “staying current with technology,” and 58 percent ranked “taking advantage of more leadership and training opportunities,” as their most, or second most-important resolution.

The pool of respondents included pharmacists, hospital executives, dentists, optometrists and opticians, certified diabetic educators, payers and medical and pharmacy directors.

The survey also found that many physicians are concerned about Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), a new program that started on January 1st, as part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  The MIPS program will determine Medicare payment adjustments based on a performance score determining whether physicians receive a payment bonus, penalty or no adjustment to pay.

Many physicians surveyed said they are concerned about their ability to continue to deliver high-quality care as they balance their time as with an increasing number of patients there are increases in paperwork and electronic documentation.  To this end, there has been significant discussion about a September Annals of Internal Medicine study which found that for every hour spent with patients, physicians spend two hours on electronic health records (EHR) and desk work. That study was even mentioned by National Coordinator for Health IT Vindell Washington, M.D., last fall, when he spoke to members of the health IT trade press about it—a clear sign that this issue is on the radar of federal policy makers.

Another top concern mentioned in the survey was adapting to any changes that President Trump will make, especially to the Affordable Care Act. Though changes are anticipated, 83 percent of the physicians surveyed said they believe the Affordable Care Act should be completely replaced.  Of those that believe it should be replaced, 35 percent said it should be replaced with a federally-funded program that provides healthcare for all Americans and 48 percent said it should be replaced with something other than a federally-funded program. Eleven percent said there should be no changes, and 6 percent were undecided, thought there should be a few minor changes or had other ideas.

Physicians want to keep up with increasing demands from their patients, new technology, and government regulations.  Further, many are experiencing and increase in workload with a decline in income.  Burnout is a concern, hence the focus on achieving work-life balance, the survey concluded.

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