34% of docs leaving medicine with low reimbursement, high overhead

A third (34 percent) of physicians plan to leave medicine within the next 10 years, according to a report from staffing company Jackson Healthcare released last week. Jackson's "2012 Medical Practice & Attitude Report," based on several surveys of U.S. physicians conducted throughout the year, illustrates how physicians are being squeezed on multiple fronts like never before, according to Richard Jackson, the firm's chairman and CEO.

"The confluence of economic and regulatory pressures is driving some physicians to early retirement and others out of the medical profession altogether," he wrote.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 doctors conducted in the spring of 2012, 57 percent of oncologists and hematologists said they will retire by 2022, as well as 49 percent of general surgeons, 49 percent of ear, nose and throat specialists, 45 percent of cardiologists and 42 percent of urologists.

Moreover, out of the more than half (56 percent) of respondents currently working in private practice, 6 percent said they planned to leave by year's end. Driven mostly by high overhead and reimbursement cuts, these doctors will seek respite by becoming hospital employees, seeking work as locum tenens or moving to nonclinical teaching or administrative positions.

Other notable findings of the report include the following:

  • While 82 percent of surveyed practices are currently accepting new patients, only 75 percent are accepting new Medicare patients and just 64 were accepting new Medicaid patients. Practices least likely to accept new Medicare and Medicaid patients said they could not afford to because of low reimbursements.
  • Despite the growing demand for nonphysician practitioners, just 36 percent of surveyed practices reported using nurse practitioners, while 25 percent work with physician assistants. Hospital-employed physicians were the most likely to work with NPs and PAs as part of their care team.
  • Just 17 percent of practices surveyed are currently involved in an accountable care organization (ACO) or patient-centered medical home, while 9 percent plan to participate this year, and the remaining 74 percent have yet to take part in these initiatives. Again, hospital-owned practices and hospital-employed physicians were more likely than their independent counterparts to form ACOs or medical homes.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf) from Jackson Healthcare