Physicians Inch Toward Boiling Point

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , October 4, 2012

Lack of a Cohesive Voice
Another major problem for physicians, as Ray sees it, is that they are not represented by a forceful organization.  "There is a systematic, endemic series of problems," Ray says. "Everywhere there [are]  defensive medicine, regulation issues, reimbursement issues. We are all in the same boat. But physician representation is balkanized. There is not a national organization that represents a majority of physicians."

One of the largest organizations, the American Medical Association (AMA), only represents 15% of physicians, according to the Physician Foundation report. That's in sharp contrast to the early 1950s, when about 75% of physicians were members of the AMA.

A coalition of state medical societies has coalesced, and groups of activist physicians have formed organizations, Ray says, but that hasn't been nearly enough to prompt change. "It's pretty hard to counter the full force of the federal government and the huge insurance companies," he says.

No wonder the survey finds that physicians are "at a tipping point" as they seek ways to "further disengage from today's medical practice environment, reducing their hours, decreasing the number of patients they see and accepting the status of salaried employees–trends that should be of urgent concern to both policy makers and the public."

Ray can relate, and if this report is a bellwether, soon others will recognize the ramifications, too.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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3 comments on "Physicians Inch Toward Boiling Point"

Insight 101 (10/8/2012 at 3:49 PM)
Its not MP either. Look at costs in TX where tort reform occured in the early 00's. If tort reform solved the defensive medicine arguement we'd have lower costs but it's just not so. FFS medicine is the driver based on high cost of services coupled with lack of coordination of services, lack of MD communication, lack of meaningful data sharing by insurance plans, laziness in care delivery, patient compliance and/or patient noncompliance and poor the health behavior we exhibit as a nation.

Marit Brock (10/5/2012 at 11:09 AM)
I have to agree with the previous comment. These stories don't seem to change over time and physicians don't actually appear to be quitting in droves. I wonder what the burnout rates of Physician Practice Administrators would show. Cynical comments aside, I do think these issues are real and could/should be addressed in our healthcare system. However, I don't believe that we will make any meaningful progress if we continue to take the approach of "we have to fix this for the physicians". Instead, there has to be a way to get physicians engaged so that we can "fix this WITH the physicians."

Bram Barker (10/4/2012 at 3:14 PM)
Doctors have threatened to quit for forever. No one does because they have no other skills. These stories just get monotonous.




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