Physicians See Financial Management, Time With Patients As Biggest Challenges

Among the biggest challenges facing American physicians are financial management, spending enough time with patients, and managing shifting reimbursement models with different payors, according to the Wolters Kluwer Health 2013 Physician Outlook Survey.


Fifteen percent of physicians responding to the survey said they would be very likely to be leaving their practice in the next two years. Of those planning to leave who have practiced for 20 years or more, 39 percent gave “it was time to retire” as the major reason for their decision. For those who had practiced less than 20 years, “hard to make the practice profitable” was the most common reason given for leaving the practice. A little more than 10 percent of each group attributed their decision to changes coming because of health care reform. 

Health Care Reform

The attitude of responding physicians toward implementation of health care reform was muted, with a plurality stating they thought reform would have little to know impact on their practice or on the overall health of the healthcare systems in the area where they practiced. 

Cost of Practicing

Sixty-eight percent of physicians said the cost of providing care was going up; the primary causes were the cost of new health information technology (HIT), costs related to implementation of the health reform law, and the cost of proving care to uninsured patients. While HIT is one of the driving factors in the increased cost of practicing, a majority of physicians also say that the adoption of HIT is ensuring patient safety, improving the quality of care of patients, and allowing physicians to practice more evidence-based medicine. 

Mobiles and Tablets

More than 80 percent of responding physicians say they use a smart phone in their daily work and 60 percent use a tablet. Physicians largely use them to get information on prescription drugs, to do medical research, and to communicate with staff. 

Business Focus

Over the next five years, 48 percent of responding physicians said their focus will be on expanding the efficiency of their practices. Thirty-four percent said they will be exploring different business models, such as becoming part of a hospital system or an accountable care organization. 

The WK survey includes responses from more than 300 practicing primary care, family medicine and internal medicine physicians. Interviews were conducted online in April 2013.