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Survey: Physicians Discuss Challenges, Financial Concerns and Focus for Next Five Years

July 16, 2013

computer stethescopePhysicians are struggling with 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 survey by Wolters Kluwer Health.

Financial challenges are coming from increasing costs, health IT adoption and the Affordable Care Act/increased legislation.

When asked about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, 84 percent of physicians said this is either very challenging or somewhat challenging for their practice. Seven out of 10 physicians (67 percent) said the Affordable Care Act is a top contributor to rising healthcare costs.

The results are from Wolters Kluwer Health’s 2013 Physician Outlook Survey of more than 300 practicing physicians. The survey was conducted by Ipsos.

“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,” said Sean Benson, vice president of innovation, clinical solutions at Wolters Kluwer Health. “To derive true benefits from health IT and electronic medical records (EMRs), physicians and health systems must integrate clinical decision support into the workflow to enable improved decision-making at the point of care with patients.”

Health Information Technology (HIT) adoption, noted by more than half of physicians, is making progress to ensure patient safety and improved patient care. Fifty-one percent also said progress was being made in leveraging EMRs to advance evidence-based medicine. However, the 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 said 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 likely 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.

Among other findings:
83 percent of physicians find it challenging to keep up with the latest research.
80 percent sometimes use browsers, such as Google and Yahoo, for information.
55 percent of physicians use smartphones and/or tablets in their daily practice.
Primary uses of smartphones are accessing drug information (72 percent of the time), communicating with nurses and other staff (44 percent of the time), accessing medical research (43 percent) and accessing evidence-based clinical reference tools (42 percent)
Mobile apps are used by physicians for digital/social media (24 percent).

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