Examining How the Drivers of Health Affect the Nation’s Physicians and their Patients

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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.


Key Findings

The Physicians Foundation’s Part One of Three: 2022 Survey of America’s Physicians builds broad-based understanding of DOH and their implications for patients and physicians. This report also identifies the strategies to address DOH while improving patient outcomes for everyone and ensure that the physician workforce is well supported for its partnership with patients.

Nearly all physicians indicated their patients’ health outcomes are affected by at least one DOH.

23 %
reported their entire patient population
54 %
reported many of their patients
18 %
reported some of their patients
5 %
reported few of their patients

Financial instability and transportation are the top two DOH experienced by physicians’ patients.

  • 34% reported financial instability 
  • 24% reported transportation problems

Regarding physicians’ time and ability to address patients’ DOH:

  • Six in 10 physicians (61%) feel they have little to no time and ability to effectively address their patients’ DOH  
  • 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 DOH” (89%) and “insufficient workforce to navigate patients to community DOH resources” (84%) as the greatest challenges impacting their time and ability to address DOH.

  • 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 DOH” (73%) and “existing payer reporting requirements taking time away from being able to address patients’ DOH” (73%) were also identified as top challenges

When it comes to DOH impact on physician mental health: 

Eight in 10 physicians (83%)
believe that addressing patients’ DOH contributes to physician burnout rates
Six in 10 physicians (63%)
report they often have feelings of burnout when trying to address their patients’ DOH
Six in 10 physicians (68%)
also report managing patients’ DOH has a major impact on physician mental health and wellbeing

More than half of physicians’ report DOH challenges cause them to experience stress or frustration on a daily or weekly basis, including:

  • 71% identified limited time during patient visit to discuss DOH 
  • 64% identified insufficient workforce to navigate patients to community resources to address DOH 
  • 63% identified existing payer reporting requirements taking time away from being able to address patients’ DOH 
  • 57% identified lack of reimbursement for screening for or addressing DOH 
  • 57% identified community resources unavailable, inadequate or difficult to access


The following top five strategies are considered important by about eight in ten physicians to support them and other physicians in addressing patients’ DOH:

  • Investing in community capacity to address patients’ DOH
  • 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 DOH 
  • Creating financial incentives for physician directed efforts to address DOH  


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 DOH 
  • 84% identified incentivizing payors to invest in availability and quality of community resources to address patients’ DOH 
  • 81% identified providing greater flexibility for Medicare Advantage to reimburse for addressing DOH  
  • 75% identified integrating DOH into payment policy