Will Physicians As We Know Them Disappear?

It’s not new news.  Physicians face a lot of pressure – new drugs, new technology, reform, ever demanding patients, lawsuits, lower pay, less time for cognitive services, …  The question is whether we’re at a “tipping point”.  In an article in HeathLeaders (Jan 2011, pg. 12), Walker Ray, MD who is head of the nonprofit Physician’s Foundation says there’s a “tsunami out there”.  More physicians want to leave practice while baby boomers are just hitting their Medicare years and chronic conditions continue to plague us. 

A recent survey by the foundation which published the report – Health Reform and the Decline of the Physician Private Practice – found that only 26% of respondents said they would continue practicing the way they are in 3 years.  The report talks about them becoming employees, part-time workers, and administrators.  Health reform should create lots of government jobs for them.

BUT, the remaining 74% said they would retire, close their practice, or seek non-clinical jobs (on top of the options above).  It’s a critical issue. 

We had a shortage of pharmacists a few years ago.  That has changed dramatically with new schools, more graduates, and technology.  I’m interested to see what happens here.  Could something simple like tort reform or payment reform change this trend?  Could the ACO model take off and improve this?

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2 Responses to “Will Physicians As We Know Them Disappear?”

  1. It is saddening that most physicians nowadays are experiencing that kind of frustration towards their practice. That is why it is important for them have other avenues or do non-clinical jobs aside from their present jobs. http://www.freelancemd.com

  2. “as we know them” is the key. Physicians have changed many times over the last century “as we know them”. When was the last time anyone had a house call? Hospitalists? Urgent Care? Minute Clinics? EMR’s? DTC campaigns? Yeah, I think they’ll change but then they’ve been doing that for some time. It is not whether they’ll change but whether good, affordable healthcare by them will be available to us.

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