Perhaps the most striking finding is that American patients are likely to experience significant and increasing challenges in accessing care if current physician practice patterns trends continue. Physicians are working fewer hours, seeing fewer patients, and limiting access to their practices in light of significant changes to the medical practice environment, according to the research, titled “A Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives.” The research estimates that if these patterns continue, 44,250 full-time-equivalent (FTE) physicians will be lost from the workforce in the next four years. The survey also found that over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent of physicians will cut back on patients seen, work part-time, switch to concierge medicine, retire, or take other steps likely to reduce patient access. In addition, should 100,000 physicians transition from practice-owner to employed status over the next four years (such as working in a hospital setting); the survey indicates that this will lead to 91 million fewer patient encounters.
“These are alarming trends, but give us a clearer perspective on the access crisis that patients may soon be facing,” said Robert Seligson, CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society and Treasurer on the Board of Directors for The Physicians Foundation. “This survey highlights the pressing need for doctors to regain control of their professional destiny by coming together to help drive the changes coming to our healthcare system.”