- A new survey of nearly 9,000 physicians found 32% of them do not see Medicaid patients, or they limit the number they do see. Some 88% of physicians said some, many or all of their patients are impacted by social determinants of health.
- The Physicians Foundation survey also yielded some revealing results about the workplace. It found that 78% of those polled experience burnout, while 46% said relations between themselves and hospitals are somewhat or mostly negative. Only 31% identified themselves as independent practice owners, down from 33% in 2016 and 48.5% in 2012.
- Just 10% of physicians surveyed feel they're able to significantly influence the healthcare system, and 55% described their morale as somewhat or very negative. Nearly half (46%) plan to change careers in some capacity.
It's far from the only research finding physician dissatisfaction. According to a Medscape survey of 15,000 practicing physicians published at the beginning of the year, nearly two-thirds of U.S. physicians report feeling burned out (42%), depressed (15%) or both (14%). The highest rates of burnout, according to that survey, is among family physicians, intensivists, internists, neurologists and OB-GYNs. A more recent report in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that physician burnout isn't nearly as much of a problem in small, independent primary care practices.
The overarching theme of the survey results can be summarized in one question about how physicians describe their professional morale and their feelings about the current state of the medical profession. Only 7% reported feeling "very positive," 37.7% feel "somewhat positive," 37.4% feel "somewhat negative" and 17.9% feel "very negative."
Further, the majority of physicians surveyed (42.4%) feel "somewhat negative/pessimistic" about the future of the medical profession, an incremental increase compared to 41.4% in 2016 and 39.5% in 2014. On burnout, 23.9% of physicians said they are overextended and overworked, while 55.6% said they are at full capacity.
Respondents were also critical of hospitals. As the foundation points out, "the interests of hospitals and physicians have not always aligned and the relationship between physicians and hospitals can be a contentious one." According to the results, that contention remains.
Only 2.7% of respondents "strongly agree" with the idea that hospital employment of physicians is likely to enhance quality of care and decrease costs, down from 8.1% in 2016, and 10.6% "agree," down from 25.7% in 2016. Conversely, 29.6% "disagree" with that idea, up from 29.2% in 2016, but 27.9% "strongly disagree," down from 37% in 2016. Some of the skewering in the results from 2016 to 2018 may be because of the lack of a "neither agree nor disagree" option before this year's survey.
Despite the frustration with hospitals, the number of physicians who own their own practice has dropped since 2012. According to the survey, 31.4% of respondents identify as independent practice partners or owners, down from 48.5% in 2012. The number of physicians who identify as hospital or medical group employees has risen since 2012, from 43.7% to 49.1%, but dropped from a survey-high 57.9% in 2016.