Quality, autonomy and collegial support drive physician satisfaction

Want happy physicians? Make sure they feel supported in providing high-quality care. This was a key message from a recent RAND Corporation study exploring factors that affect physician satisfaction.

"Many things affect physician professional satisfaction, but a common theme is that physicians describe feeling stressed and unhappy when they see barriers preventing them from providing quality care," Mark Friedberg, M.D., the study's lead author and a natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, said in an announcement. "If their perceptions about quality are correct, then solving these problems will be good for both patients and physicians."

According to surveys and interviews with physicians and administrators from 30 physician practices in six states, physicians are more satisfied in practices that give them greater autonomy in structuring clinical activities and high control over the pace and content of patient care.

Researchers say that physicians reported more satisfaction when their practices gave them more autonomy in structuring clinical activities, as well as more control over the pace and content of patient care. It stands to reason, then, that clinicians in physician-owned practices or partnerships reported higher satisfaction than doctors in hospital- or corporation-owned offices.

Other detractors from physician satisfaction included the following:

  • Excessive productivity quotas and limits on time spent with each patient
  • The time and resource burden of an overwhelming number of compliance rules and regulations
  • Electronic health records with poor usability, such as those requiring cumbersome data entry that compromised both interactions with patients and the quality of clinical documentation

Another driver of physician happiness, however, was a perception of collegiality, fairness and respect within a practice.

To learn more:
- read the statement from RAND
- check out the study