Survey examines doctors' morale, practice patterns, career plans, impact of social determinants
The Physicians Foundation (TPF), a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and helps them facilitate the delivery of health care to patients, released the findings of its 2018 survey of U.S. physicians Tuesday, revealing the impact of several factors driving physicians to reassess their careers. The survey takes into account responses from ISMA members and almost 9,000 other physicians across the country.

The results of the survey, administered by Merritt Hawkins, underscore the impact of factors that have led to burnout among physicians, TPF said. Those factors include excessive regulatory and insurer requirements, loss of clinical autonomy, and electronic health record challenges.

“The perceptions of thousands of physicians in The Physicians Foundation’s latest survey reflect front-line observations of our health care system and its impact on all of us, and it’s sobering,” said Gary Price, MD, president of TPF. “Their responses provide important insights into many critical issues. The career plans and practice pattern trends revealed in this survey – some of which are a result of burnout – will likely have a significant effect on our physician workforce, and ultimately, everyone’s access to care.”

A key finding was that 88 percent of respondents said that social determinants, such as poverty, unemployment, lack of education and addictions, affected the health of some, many or all of their patients. Only 1 percent of respondents reported that none of their patients faced such conditions.

Also, 79 percent of physicians responding reported that patient relationships continue to be their greatest source of professional satisfaction, while intellectual stimulation is a distant second at 55 percent. That is consistent with the finding of past biennial TPF surveys.

The survey also revealed physicians’ opinions on the effectiveness of value-based compensation and their ability to impact the health care system. In addition, it showed the percentage of physicians in private practice continues to decline, while the percentage who plan to retire or change career paths in the next three years is rising.

TPF President Gary Price, MD, discusses the significance of the 2018 report’s findings in this question-and-answer session.

To download the full survey report, go here.