5 biggest issues facing doctors in 2012

The biggest issues impacting doctors in 2011 are going to be dogging them into 2012 says the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports physicians.

The foundation’s Physicians Watch List for 2012, released earlier this week, identifies five key areas the organization believes will have the biggest impact on doctors next year.

They are:

1. The changing nature of medical practices. As operating practices becomes increasingly more challenging, doctors are faced with choices such as affiliating with hospitals or joining a group practice.

2. Decreased return on increased burden. More regulations and administrative burdens often means less time with patients and more frustration for doctors, especially as they face a Medicare payment cut effective Jan. 1.

3. Acute shortages of primary care physicians. Fewer primary care physicians in the face of more patients means those in practice will have to shoulder more responsibilities.

4. Critical need for physician leadership tools and skills. In order for doctors to survive and thrive in the changing healthcare landscape, they will need to focus more on business and people management.

5. Impact on patients. Doctors will have to figure out how to juggle their increased burdens – decreasing reimbursement, more regulations and administrative tasks – while improving quality of care.

The foundation’s Physicians Watch List was generated based on the organization’s nationwide polls of doctors, from researching the literature about what doctors are currently facing and listening to the members of its board, many of whom are from medical societies, said Lou Goodman, PhD, president of the Physicians Foundation.

“We felt that these (key areas) would really help doctors and help their societies that represent doctors to provide services to keep quality high and maintain a viable practice,” he said.

“We’ve kind of painted this picture: Look at all these potentially horrible things that are happening,” Goodman added, “but there’s an answer and we’re going to try to provide resources and funding to try to help you address them … well, to the extent we can.”

Follow HFN associate editor Stephanie Bouchard on Twitter @SBouchardHFN.