The Physicians Foundation 2018 Physician Survey

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The Physicians Foundation’s 2018 survey, now in its sixth edition, reveals some startling findings about the impact of several factors driving physicians to reassess their careers. The survey of nearly 9,000 U.S. physicians across the country examines the impact of poverty on healthcare outcomes, practice patterns, career plans, how physicians are responding to the opioid crisis and perspectives of today’s physicians.

Key Findings

Fewer independent physicians, fewer drug prescriptions, more quality payments, telemedicine, the impact of poverty, struggles with burnout and moral.

The 2018 Survey of America’s Physicians reveals an evolving medical profession that continues to struggle with issues of burnout and low morale. Key findings include:

  • Only 31% of physicians identify as independent practice owners or partners, down from 33% in 2016 and down from 48.5% in 2012.
  • Physicians are working fewer hours and are seeing fewer patients.
  • Employed physicians work more hours yet see fewer patients than practice owners.
  • 80% of physicians are at full capacity or are overextended.
  • 62% are pessimistic about the future of medicine.
  • 69% are prescribing fewer pain medications in light of the opioid crisis.
  • 55% describe their morale as somewhat or very negative, a number consistent with findings in previous years.
  • 78% sometimes, often or always experience feelings of burnout.
  • 23% of physician time is spent on non-clinical paperwork.
  • 46% plan to change career paths.
  • 17% plan to retire (up from 14% in 2016) while 12% plan to find a non-clinical job or position.
  • 18.5% now practice some form of telemedicine.
  • 31% of physicians’ patients do not consistently adhere to their treatment plans.
  • 26% of physicians favor a single payer health system, 35.5% favor single payer with a private insurance option, and 27% favor a market-driven system.
  • 22% of physicians do not see Medicare patients or limit the number they see.
  • 32% of physicians do not see Medicaid patients or limit the number they see.
  • 47% of physicians have their compensation tied to quality/value, but only 18% believe quality/value payments will improve care or reduce costs.
  • 49% would not recommend medicine as a career to their children.
  • 88% of physicians indicate that some, many or all of their patients have a social situation (poverty, unemployment, etc.) that poses a serious impediment to their health. Only 1% of physicians indicate that none of their patients have a social situation that poses a serious impediment to their health.
  • 46% of physicians indicate relations between physicians and hospitals are somewhat or mostly negative.
  • Physicians indicate patient relationships are their greatest source of professional satisfaction, while electronic health records (EHR) are their greatest source of professional dissatisfaction.