Okay, MDVIP is int he concierge medicine business, so lets stipulate that there could be a little bias in the survey methodology or responses, but it is interesting nonetheless. The firms surveyed 200 primary care doctors in July and the results are depressing, as apparently are many of the physicians. (MDVIP Survey) 68% said work stress is negatively impacting their lives. The primary reasons cited by 74% is too much paperwork and bureaucracy; electronic medical records by 43%, and long hours by 39%. This makes 41% seriously consider quitting because of the stress, while 48% said they might have chosen a different specialty. Some of the results of the work stress and demands are that 83% said they didn’t spend as much time with patients as they wanted to, 87% said they can’t keep up with medical advances, and 54% said they refer patients to specialists or write prescriptions because they don’t have enough time with them. And doctor health is apparently negatively impacted as well. 76% stated that they did not get enough sleep, 75% said they were not exercising enough, 55% reported being overweight and 60% said that work demands prevented them from making optimal food choices. Not a good thing when your medical professionals have these health problems.
MDVIP’s solution is obviously for doctors to go into concierge practice, but that probably isn’t going to work for most of them. Given the cost pressures, it is difficult to imagine solutions that involve paying doctors a lot more or reducing their productivity. One obvious place to start is reducing the regulatory demands, whether related to electronic medical records or to quality improvement programs. Doctors obviously want most to help their patients. That would increase job satisfaction, which probably also increases patient satisfaction. But regulators and policymakers just think they are so smart and really need to impose all these burdens on physicians in the interest of better health for patients. It isn’t working. And payers need to think seriously about the administrative burdens they are heaping on doctors with prior authorization and other demands for justification of treatment decisions. Should be a better way to meet some of these objectives and make doctors’ lives a little better.