Thursday, September 18, 2014

Survey: N.C. doctors are stressed, but morale improving

A majority of doctors in North Carolina and across the country are unhappy with the state of their profession,  but morale has improved over the last two years,  according to a survey by The Physicians Foundation.

The foundation,  a nonprofit grant-making and research group,  polled more than 20,000 physicians,  including 565 from North Carolina.  Only 39 percent of N.C. doctors and 44 percent of all doctors described their morale and feelings about the profession as positive,  the survey found.  However,  most national measures of morale had climbed since the last poll in 2012,  with young doctors describing themselves as more upbeat than older ones.

The group sent me a breakout on North Carolina,  which didn't include a prior-year comparison.  The state numbers generally tracked national ones,  though Tarheel docs tended to be a bit more negative.  Numbers below are for North Carolina.

First the good news:  Just over two thirds said medicine is still rewarding,  with patient relationships and intellectual stimulation cited by a strong majority as the best part of their practice.  However, fewer than half said they'd recommend medicine as a career for young people.

Just over 42 percent said changes in medicine are prompting them to accelerate retirement plans.  In the next one to three years,  16 percent said they plan to cut back hours,  13 percent said they'll seek a non-clinical health care job and 12.5 percent said they plan to do locum tenens,  or temporary,  work.

About 34 percent said they're  "overextended and overworked,"  while only 17 percent said they have time to see more patients and take on more duties.

Two-thirds disagreed with the statement that hospital employment of doctors  "is a positive trend likely to enhance quality of care and decrease costs."

When asked about the causes of rising health costs,  "defensive medicine,"  or trying to avoid malpractice suits,  was by far the most-cited factor at 60.5 percent.  Next were an aging population  (37 percent),  the cost of pharmaceuticals  (35 percent)  and state and federal insurance mandates  (34 percent).

Most doctors say they're using electronic medical records,  a practice promoted by the Affordable Care Act,  but they're not convinced it's doing much good.  The physicians were about evenly split on whether the electronic records improve or detract from care,  but they were much more likely to say the switch detracts from patient interaction and efficiency.

When asked to grade the ACA  "as a vehicle for healthcare reform,"  47 percent gave the act a D or F,  compared with 25 percent awarding an A or B.


Anonymous said...

I don't blame them for being depressed. They've been turned into corporate cogs in a wheel by the big healthcare organizations like Novant. A doctor told me before he retired that Novant wanted him to only spend twenty minutes or less with each patient unless it was an urgent care situation. And even with that twenty-minute limit, these doctors still run behind on their appointments by as much as forty-five minutes or longer sometimes, mostly due to the fact that they're forced to overbook appointments. It's a sad situation, and will only get worse. Older patients often have to wait days or weeks to see their primary care physician. And doctors are depressed? Try looking at it from a patient's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Stressed but morale improving? Says who? Figs dont lie but liars can fig. ... How many already called it quits and hung up their stethoscopes under this socialist moron in chief?

Anonymous said...

This healthcare was going in crisis since Reagan hit office and Bush capped it off. People just do not want to hear the truth or policies Bush signed while in office one being not factoring in cost doctors have to pay for malpractice insurance. When he was warned this would cause many GP's out of business and jobs and force people into ER's and his comment was "let the GP's work in the ER's. ." My GP retired early as he was already tired of fighting health insurance companies to cover test he needed to run to be sure he could treat his patients properly--and the entire office closed down. Bush comments on the seniors was--let their children care for them. I listened to his speech and on medications cost and he either was innocently ignorant to cost or he was lying. Only he knows for sure and his campaign people. During Bush's term I was paying an easy $6,000 out of pocket yearly and my coverage zoomed to the bottomless pit.

I am still complaining and my savings is eaten up but it has improved to where I am paying a quarter of that out of pocket now.

It has improved with Obama but it is going to take time. I know cause for 20 years I have been on a lot of medications and expensive ones and have many medical problems.

When Obama won office the drug companies increased some of my meds to double the cost and the next year tripled the cost. People blame Obama for Bush's policies all the time and have no clue who did what and these people vote and not wise enough to get to the bottom of who passed what policies.

Last but not least--do not forget what you state and local government is passing that is costing you also in healthcare and costing doctors.