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Study: Docs Caught between Caring for Patients and Running a Business

March 29, 2010
by root
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Fifty-nine percent of physicians believe the quality of medicine in the U.S. will decline in the next five years, according to data from a survey conducted by Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth, Inc. and Cambridge, Mass.-based Sermo, an online community for physicians.

The two organizations interviewed 1,000 physicians regarding pain points and frustrations relating to the business of medicine, reimbursement protocols, government’s hand in healthcare, and other variables that stand to threaten the delivery of quality care, they say. Some other key findings include the following:

  • 62 percent of physicians are pessimistic about their ability to practice independently or in small groups in the future
  • 64 percent agree that clinical decisions are based more on what payors are willing to cover rather than what they think is best for patients
  • 64 percent say the current healthcare climate as somewhat or very detrimental to their delivery of quality care
  • 54 percent disagree that more active government involvement in healthcare regulation can improve outcomes; less than a quarter feel otherwise
  • 49 percent believe a shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-performance will have a positive impact on quality of care; however, 53 percent believe pay-for-performance will have a negative impact on the effort required to get paid
  • 77 percent agree that time spent with payors and third parties inhibits their ability to spend time with patients
  • 81 percent expressed a favorable opinion on EHRs, yet only just 51 percent feel EHRs are designed with them in mind
  • 54 percent agree that EHRs slow down the doctor during patient exams

To view the full discussion on issues related to the study, visit

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