Feel That Majority of Time Spent on Administrative Tasks vs. Medicine; Practice Challenges Include Obtaining Reimbursements (81%), Patient Approvals (77%)
Darien, CT, and Atlanta, GA, June 25, 2012 – Today’s doctors are at a technological tipping point—though not without some growing pains—adjusting to new reimbursement models and mandates of detailed documentation, according to the 2012 National Physicians Survey. Two out of three physicians (66%) say the integration of electronic medical records (EMRs) is among their practice challenges. Despite that, most doctors (66%) acknowledge EMRs will at least improve or have a neutral effect on their future business.
Almost one out of three doctors (30%) are using laptops regularly for e-prescribing, EMRs and more. Almost a quarter (20%) are using Smartphones and 12%, iPads, for clinical needs.
Conducted by the little blue book and Sharecare, the second annual National Physicians Survey of 1,190 U.S. practitioners representing more than 75 medical specialties, reveals physicians’ perceptions about the ongoing changes in the healthcare system and how those changes are impacting their daily practices as well as their ability to provide optimal patient care. A copy of the complete survey can be found at Sharecare.com (www.sharecare.com/static/national_physicians_survey). A downloadable infographic (www.sharecare.com/static/national_physicians_survey_infographic) is available.
Additional survey highlights
- Peer-to-peer communication is occurring via email—despite not being a “secure channel.”
- 34% of physicians communicate with other clinicians via email—not defined as a “secure channel” by HIPAA.
- Telephone (95%) and fax (63%) are still the primary forms of communication.
- A dinosaur in most other office environments today, the physician’s fax, in particular, is kingpin, supporting hand-written notes, insurance forms and lab test result transmissions.
- 58% of doctors communicate with peers in person.
- 5% use social networking sites.
- Doctor-to-patient communication remains fairly traditional, with some online inroads.
- 91% of doctors talk with patients via phone.
- 84% in person.
- 20% via email.
- 8% via Personal Health Records (PHRs)*
- 6% are texting.
- Few physicians are opting for solo practices these days—a good portion are “employed” by hospitals, large practices or Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
- 22% of physicians are in ACO talks, up from 12% last year.
- Of those who stated they were aware of ACOs,
- 37% stated that they would participate as a member of a group practice.
- 27% as a member of a physician-hospital organization.
- 10% as a hospital-employed physician.
- Only 17% of the respondents were unfamiliar with the ACO term, down from 45% last year.
- Says a pediatric cardiologist, “I know if I stay in practice, I’ll have to join an ACO. Right now all the hospitals and big players (big practices) are jockeying for position as an ACO.”
- Doctors say new patients find them via:
- Word of mouth (71%)
- Practice networks referrals (33%)
- Print directories (29%)
- Internet searches (22%)
- During the onslaught of healthcare requirements and shrinking practice margins, physicians are finding some advocates.
- 41% say their state medical organization/society advocates for them.
- 39% say their national medical organization/society does.
- But 40% report “no one.”
- Says an otolaryngologist, “No one advocates for physicians except each one of us and we individually hate what this great country is doing to our great profession.”
- Says an internist, “We should have joined the Teamsters.”
- Anecdotal responses suggest specialty-focused organizations are stepping in for advocacy.
- Administrative needs still overrunning practices; doctors are pessimistic.
- Overwhelmingly burdened by obtaining reimbursements from insurers (81%) and patient approvals (77%), most doctors (71%) believe the quality of healthcare will deteriorate over the next five years.
- 55% fear they aren’t spending adequate time with each patient.
- 38% are concerned they aren’t seeing enough patients in a day.
- Comments showcase physicians’ frustrations:
- “Medicine is the only industry that can’t set our own fees and charges,” says a radiation oncologist.
- “Declining reimbursement from Medicare is causing me to seriously consider retirement,” says a plastic surgeon.
- “Obtaining adequate reimbursements, I get paid 1/3 of what I did in 1986,” confesses a urologist.
- “The system of coding for professional activities related to patient care is a joke. Time is time—time is the only thing I have to give to my patients that I can bill for, and it is not enough,” says a family medicine practitioner.
“Physicians today are practicing in a healthcare environment that they never could have predicted much less prepared for,” said Keith Steward, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs at Sharecare. “This year’s National Physicians Survey provides valuable insight into the frustrations and opportunities of the day-to-day management of practices, administration tools doctors use, and how communication with both colleagues and patients is evolving. Arming doctors with innovative solutions to ease administrative burdens is a top priority for the healthcare industry. Doctors need to get back to what they were trained to do—provide their patients with the best care possible.”
About the 2012 National Physicians Survey (NPS)
Conducted by the little blue book (tlbb) in partnership with Sharecare, the 2012 NPS is a comprehensive 10-question survey conducted via email and fax in January 2012. The final data report was completed in April 2012. In addition to tabulating overall responses, tlbb and Sharecare segmented data by medical fields, including primary care (e.g., internal medicine, OB-GYN and pediatrics), medical specialties (e.g., cardiology, dermatology and psychiatry), surgical specialties, as well as group practice size. For a complete copy of the survey results, including methodology and limitations, and to access a downloadable infographic, please visit http://www.thelittlebluebook.com/research or http://www.sharecare.com/static/national_physicians_survey.
About the little blue book (tlbb)
the little blue book (tlbb) has been the #1 practice referral tool for communicating with practices, pharmacies, hospitals and health plans for more than 24 years. tlbb provides information for the needs of practicing physicians consisting of detailed doctor profiles organized by specialty as well as allied health specialists, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and therapists. Directories are printed in 147 metro areas and cover over 91% of the 43,000+ doctors in the tlbb database.
Launched in 2010 and based in Atlanta, GA, Sharecare is an interactive, social Q & A platform that allows people to ask, learn and act upon questions of health and wellness. Created by Jeff Arnold and Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Studios, Remark Media (NASDAQ: MARK), Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications, the company’s innovative approach provides the consumer access to a wide array of health and wellness experts ranging from hospitals to doctors, specialists to non-profits, to healthcare companies and active health consumers, creating a thriving community where healthcare knowledge is built, shared and put into practice.