Examining How the Drivers of Health Affect the Nation’s Physicians and their Patients
The Physicians Foundation’s Part One of Three: 2022 Survey of America’s Physicians examines the current impact of drivers of health (DOH) on physician practice, physician wellbeing and their patients as well as possible solutions needed to address DOH.
Part One of The Physicians Foundation’s 2022 Survey of America’s Physicians focuses on how DOH affect physicians and their patients. The survey was conducted from February 3 through 11, 2022, and the data presented is based on 1,502 responses. Complete methodology is available on page 23 of the full report.
Nearly all physicians indicated their patients’ health outcomes are affected by at least one SDOH.
- 23% reported their entire patient population
- 54% reported many of their patients
- 18% reported some of their patients
- 5% reported few of their patients
- 1% reported none of their patients
Financial instability and transportation are the top two SDOH experienced by physicians’ patients.
- 34% reported financial instability
- 24% reported transportation problems
More than half of physicians report SDOH challenges cause them to experience stress or frustration on a daily or weekly basis, including:
- 71% identified limited time during patient visit to discuss SDOH
- 64% identified insufficient workforce to navigate patients to community resources to address SDOH
- 63% identified existing payer reporting requirements taking time away from being able to address patients’ SDOH
- 57% identified lack of reimbursement for screening for or addressing SDOH
- 57% identified community resources unavailable, inadequate or difficult to access
Eight in 10 physicians (80%) believe that the United States cannot improve health outcomes or reduce health care costs without addressing SDOH.
Multiple policy steps were identified by physicians as important to improve health outcomes and ensure high-quality, cost- efficient care for all:
- 86% identified reimbursing physician-directed efforts to address SDOH
- 84% identified incentivizing payors to invest in availability and quality of community resources to address patients’ SDOH
- 81% identified providing greater flexibility for Medicare Advantage to reimburse for addressing SDOH
- 75% identified integrating SDOH into payment policy
Regarding physicians’ time and ability to address patients’ SDOH:
- Six in 10 physicians (61%) feel they have little to no time and ability to effectively address their patients’ SDOH
- However, a majority of physicians (87%) want greater time and ability in the future
The majority of physicians identified “limited time during patient visits to address SDOH” (89%) and “insufficient workforce to navigate patients to community SDOH resources” (84%) as the greatest challenges impacting their time and ability to address SDOH.
Community resources not available, inadequate or difficult to access” (77%), “inadequate information about availability/access to community resources” (77%), “lack of reimbursement for screening for or addressing SDOH” (73%) and “existing payer reporting requirements taking time away from being able to address patients’ SDOH” (73%) were also identified as top challenges
When it comes to SDOH impact on physician mental health:
- Eight in 10 physicians (83%) believe that addressing patients’ SDOH contributes to physician burnout rates
- Six in 10 physicians (63%) report they often have feelings of burnout when trying to address their patients’ SDOH
- Six in 10 physicians (68%) also report managing patients’ SDOH has a major impact on physician mental health and wellbeing
The following top five strategies are considered important by about eight in ten physicians to support them and other physicians in addressing patients’ SDOH:
- Investing in community capacity to address patients’ SDOH
- Investing in the technological and human capacity to connect patients with community resources they need to be healthy
- Screening patients to identify social needs
- Significantly reducing existing payer reporting requirements and other administrative burdens to provide the necessary time to address SDOH
- Creating financial incentives for physician-directed efforts to address SDOH