Money and modernization are the roots of the main challenges facing physicians in 2009. Among the top ten most challenging issues facing American doctors, 7 in 10 directly involve economics, two involve data and reporting, and one–recruiting physicians–fell two places since last year’s survey.

According to the 2009 survey of physicians by the Medical Group Management Association, physicians are most concerned with:

  1. Dealing with operating costs increasing faster than practice revenues,
  2. Maintaining income as reimbursement is declining, and
  3. Selecting and implementing an electronic health records (EHR) system.

Medical Practice Today, 2009 details the results of MGMA’s survey of 2,007 physicians conducted in February 2009.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The recession is negatively impact physician practices, quantified by the survey. 1 in 3 physicians has responded to the recession in some way, including:

  • 36.6% postponing capital expenditures
  • 34.7% seeing an increase in uninsured patients
  • 34.5% freezing staff hires
  • 33.9% cutting operating budgets.

As health reform discussions are taking shape with an eye toward cutting payments to providers, these data would be wise to keep in mind. Further driving primary care physicians out of practice as cost pressures move more doctors into the red would compromise efforts to increase access to care for the uninsured.