Doctors reveal financial struggles


Docs bare all hope, struggle in survey contemplating financial futuresPhoto used with permission from Shutterstock.com

Providers responding to the latest Wolters Kluwer Health 2013 Physician Outlook Survey aren’t the type to keep secrets. After all, with wounds this deep and permeating, staying quiet isn’t just uncomfortable — it’s impossible.

A swooping tally of physician concerns and struggles — from the financial pangs at the pointy ends of Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation, to the snags in purse and personal connection courtesy of health information technology (HIT), and other general practice business hurdles — the survey consulted 300 practicing physicians specializing in primary care, family medicine and internal medicine, ultimately finding that while the aches are many, so are the gauzy hopes/solutions.

Overall, most study respondents agreed that due to a ramping up of costs, HIT adoption and ACA proximity, financial management challenges have been exacerbated as of late. In fact, seven out of ten physicians (67 percent) picked ACA as the top perpetrator of rising healthcare costs from a lengthy lineup of money miscreants.

Meanwhile, the overarching three business challenges were listed as follows:

All information courtesy of Wolters Kluwer Health and Ipsos. Background image courtesy of Subconsci Productions. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Part of the perpetuation of such a troublesome triumvirate has been HIT, the respondents posited. While many providers cited progress made on the grounds of patient safety and general patient care improvement, more still found HIT hold-ups to be quite common and difficult to overcome.

Click to enlarge.

All information courtesy of Wolters Kluwer Health and Ipsos. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

"Physicians are facing increasing pressure to create efficiencies across their practices and drive down costs while at the same time demonstrating improved outcomes for patients," commented Sean Benson, vice president of innovation, Clinical Solutions, Wolters Kluwer Health, in a news release. "To derive true benefits from HIT and EMR systems, physician offices and health systems must integrate clinical decision support into the workflow to enable improved decision-making at the point of care with patients."

But despite how tough the going is, physicians aren’t giving up on the future and remain ever-diligent in planning new strategies to help avoid the wales in waiting. For many respondents, the next three to five years will encompass some, if not all of, the following:

Click to enlarge.

All information courtesy of Wolters Kluwer Health and Ipsos. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Other key survey findings include:

  • 83 percent of physicians find it challenging to keep up with the latest research.
  • 80 percent at least sometimes use browsers such as Google and Yahoo for information, coming in as the second top physician information source after professional journals (84 percent).
  • 55 percent of physicians use both smartphones and tablets in their daily practice.
  • Primary uses of smartphones are accessing drug information (72 percent), communicating with nurses and other staff (44 percent), accessing medical research (43 percent) and accessing evidence-based clinical reference tools at the point of care with patients (42 percent).
  • Mobile apps are the most heavily used digital/social media channel for physicians, used by 24 percent.

Find a copy of the survey here.

Photo used with permission from Shutterstock.com.