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Survey: Pessimistic Physicians Down on ACOs, EMRs

September 24, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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In a recent survey from The Physicians Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients, revealed that today’s physicians are fairly pessimistic about the future of healthcare. The survey found that 62 percent of physicians say accountable care organizations (ACOs) are either unlikely to increase healthcare quality and decrease costs, or that any quality / cost gains will not be worth the effort.

In addition, while close to 70 percent of physicians have implemented electronic medical records (EMR), 47.4 percent have significant concerns that EMR poses a risk to patient privacy. Meanwhile, 92 percent of physicians are unsure where the health system will be or how they will fit into it three to five years from now.

Overall, the survey discovered that physicians say they are working fewer hours, seeing fewer patients and limiting access to their practices in light of significant changes to the medical practice environment. More than 84 percent of physicians feel that the medical profession is in decline and nearly 58 percent are reluctant to recommend medicine as a career to their children.

The survey of more than 13,000 physicians, called “A Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives,” says if the patterns continue, 44,250 full-time-equivalent (FTE) physicians will be lost from the workforce in the next four years. Furthermore, over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent of physicians will cut back on patients seen, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire, or take other steps likely to reduce patient access.

 “The rate of private practice physicians leaving the medical field, as well as changes in practice patterns that reduce the number of hours spent seeing and treating patients, is alarming. When these lost hours are added up, we get a much fuller and more ominous picture of the kind of access crisis that patients may soon face,” Walker Ray, M.D., vice president of The Physicians Foundation and chair of its Research Committee, said in a statement.

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