It sounded like the doctor was cataloging the symptoms of a disease state. He represented the ailing state of physicians. Jackson Healthcare tallied the complaints: a "complex business environment, hassles with insurance companies, billing, collections, administrative work, hospital pressures and quality of life issues." Many physicians want to work fewer hours, spend more time with family, more time on vacation, provide less call coverage and gain a more manageable workload.
Among the public, "the perception is these guys are all filthy rich, but it's not true anymore, especially for those primary care docs," Sorrell says. "Some are just trying to keep their practices open."
But physicians are in the business of fixing ills, aren't they? Around the same time Jackson conducted its survey, The Physicians Foundation—a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients—issued two reports that echoed what doctors view as their dismal state. But there was a twist: the reports said that physicians can take steps to control their own destiny and stay in business.
Stephen Isaacs, JD, an attorney and president of the Center for Health and Social Policy, and Paul S. Jellinek, PhD, former vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, stated in their report that, "while it is indeed possible to survive and even thrive in private practice in the current environment, business as usual is not an option. Serious steps must be taken to the new realities and implementing these steps may well take some physicians outside of their comfort zones."