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Physician Sentiment

By August 20, 2013Commentary

Athena, the large provider of hosted practice management and electronic medical records software, issued results from a survey of about 1200 physicians in 2013, using the Epocrates doctor base.  Athena did a similar survey of a smaller number of physicians in 2012 using the Sermo base.    (Athena Survey)   About 47% of the doctors were in independent practice and 30% were primary care physicians.  Seventy-five percent of respondents were in practices of 21 doctors or less.  Compared to the previous year, many fewer were using an outside billing firm.  Around 13% said they plan to purchase or replace an electronic medical system, with a smaller percent saying they will do so in the next year.  The majority believe EMRs will improve patient outcomes but doctors are increasingly skeptical that the benefits, quality or financial, outweigh the costs.  Billing and reimbursement interactions with payers continue to be a major frustration for physicians, but one they seem to be accepting as just a fact of medical practice life.  Participation in pay for performance programs is generally low, and the overall perception is surprisingly that these programs will not only lower doctor income but lessen quality.  Doctors are pessimistic about the ability of independent practice to survive.  Many are concerned about whether ICD-10 can be implemented without serious disruption.  In regard to retail clinics, physicians believe they should only be permitted to provide very limited care, because quality is not as good as that delivered by primary care physicians, a view which is not supported by the research.  Most doctors believe the quality of medicine will decline over the next five years.

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