The nonprofit Physician Foundation bills itself as a "grassroots" organization that examines doctors' attitudes and takes their pulse. "We know pretty much what's going on," says Walker Ray, MD, head of the organization's research committee.
The foundation, a nonprofit grant making organization committed to improving the "medical practice environment" for physicians and patients, released a survey last month that took a look at physicians' opinions about the state of healthcare. Short version: not good.
The physicians' frustrations with healthcare reform, and a host of other issues, as Ray puts it, "tort reform not being addressed, the viability of medical practices jeopardized, the time spent with patients jeopardized, the SGR formula issue" are among the concerns addressed in the survey.
There's a "tsunami out there," Ray says. While many physicians want to leave practices, there is a pressing need for primary care, while younger physicians are "wanting a life" and not long hours and seeking to join hospitals. And in the years ahead, there is the looming reality of millions more now uninsured into the system, never mind the crunch of aging baby boomers eventually needing not only medical help but also government assistance.
The Physician Foundation's latest report, Health Reform and the Decline of Physician Private Practice, conducted and compiled by physician recruiters Merritt Hawkins, includes results from a national survey of 2,400 physicians, only 26% of whom said they would continue practicing the way they are in the next one to three years.