Physicians in the U.S. have cited managing shifting reimbursement models with payers (91 percent), financial management (90 percent), and spending time with patients (88 percent) as the top three business challenges, according to a new survey from Wolters Kluwer Health, a global information services company.
When asked specifically about impacts of the Affordable Care Act, 84 percent cited this as either very or somewhat challenging for their practice. Seven out of 10 physicians (67 percent) say the Affordable Care Act is a top contributor to rising healthcare costs.
Findings come from the Wolters Kluwer Health 2013 Physician Outlook Survey of more than 300 practicing physicians in the fields of primary care, family medicine and internal medicine.
More than half of physicians agreed that progress is being made in leveraging health information technology to ensure patient safety and improve patient care. Fifty-one percent also cited progress in leveraging electronic medical records (EMRs) to advance evidence-based medicine. However, a majority of physicians believe that little to no progress has been made with HIT in the areas of ensuring ease of use (56 percent), improving patient relationships (61 percent), and increasing efficiency/saving time (66 percent).
When asked about their top focus areas for the next three to five years, physicians cited increasing their practice's efficiency (48 percent), exploring different business models such as mergers, becoming part of a hospital system or patient-centered medical homes (34 percent), and adopting technology to improve clinical decision making or support evidence-based decision making (31 percent).
Physicians were also asked about likelihood to leave their current practice in the next one to two years. Findings show that 34 percent said they are very or somewhat likely to leave. The top reason is that it is hard to make their practice profitable, as cited by 29 percent of physicians. Another 15 percent say the field is no longer rewarding.
"Physicians are facing increasing pressure to create efficiencies across their practices and drive down costs while at the same time demonstrating improved outcomes for patients," Sean Benson, vice president of innovation, clinical solutions, Wolters Kluwer Health, said in a statement. "To derive true benefits from HIT and EMR systems, physician offices and health systems must integrate clinical decision support into the workflow to enable improved decision-making at the point of care with patients."
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