For the past few years, an organization called The Physicians Foundation, has released a list of what it considers the top issues facing physicians in the coming year. The Physicians Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that “seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and help facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients.”
The organization’s mission statement says, “As the U.S. healthcare system continues to evolve, The Physicians Foundation is steadfast in its determination to strengthen the physician-patient relationship, support physicians in sustaining their medical practices and help practicing physicians navigate healthcare reform.” The organization has a particular focus or interest in physicians in solo and small practices.
The Foundation uses a variety of tools to identify what it considers the top issues, including a national survey of physicians. According to the Foundation, the issues on the list for 2013 are:
- The Affordable Care Act. According to the Foundation, physicians are concerned about how the health reform law will be implemented, with particular anxiety focused on the Medicare physician fee schedule and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
- Practice Consolidation. As more and more doctors become employed by hospitals or large medical groups, doctors are keeping an eye on the possible unintended consequences of such consolidations – what impact these have on the profession and on patient access and cost of care.
- Influx of New Patients. Due to the ACA, it is estimated that more than 30 million new patients will enter the healthcare delivery system. Doctors are worried there will not be enough providers to meet the needs of the increased number of patients.
- Reduced Autonomy: Related to the issue of consolidation and increased physician employment is a concern of physicians that their ability to exercise independent medical judgments may be hindered by those in non-clinical positions.
- Administrative burden. A continual concern for doctors is the increasing burden on them in the form of more regulations and non-clinical paperwork.
In a statement about the Physicians Watch List, Walker Ray, MD, Chair of the Foundation’s Research Committee said, “We hope that the Foundation’s research and insights serve as a pragmatic resource that will help policy makers, physicians and healthcare providers formulate smart policy decisions that are beneficial to America’s patients and doctors.”