10 Health Reforms Docs Want

September 1, 2009

As part of our Great American Physician Survey (which will run in the October 2009 issue) we asked physicians “What healthcare reforms would you like to see?” Curious about the top issues? Read for yourself.


As part of our 2009 Great American Physician Survey* we asked 1,598 physicians “What healthcare reforms would you like to see?” Predictably, the two most frequent responses zeroed in on changing healthcare’s current payment systems and instituting tort reform. But you had lots of other ideas, too.

Some of you registered your frustration with cheeky responses like “Offer rewards to patients who actually follow my advice,” and “Bring humanity back.” But mostly, you proffered thoughtful ideas on ways to improve the system. Physicians, like other Americans, have widely diverse opinions on what needs to be done - and that diversity is reflected in your suggestions. Below, in no particular order, are 10 of the most-often suggested reforms:

1. Narrow the widening income disparity that exists between primary-care doctors and specialists.

2. Stabilize medical school costs to encourage more people to go into primary care. Increase student loan forgiveness for physicians who serve in needy areas. Give tax credits to doctors who provide care to the indigent, uninsured, and/or in physician-shortage areas.

3. Create tax incentives for citizens who maintain a healthy life by getting yearly physical exams, not smoking, getting immunized, keeping weight down, and getting mammograms, bone density scans, and PSA levels checked.

4. Develop a national electronic health record system that all doctors and hospitals can access. And modify billing systems and coding rules to allow telephone, e-mail, and other virtual patient visits to be billable charges.

5. Cap insurance and pharmaceutical company profits and exorbitant executive salaries, and eliminate the payments drug companies make to physicians who participate in dubious “studies.”

6. Get the government out of medicine entirely.

7. Institute a single-payer system that has universal coverage for both adults and children.

8. Allow patients to choose their care and provider based on quality rather than insurance participation.

9. Do away with or reform medical boards and certifications.

10. Hold payers more responsible for the fair treatment of physicians and fair reimbursement for services performed.

*The Great American Physician Survey results and story will run in the October 2009 issue of Physicians Practice.

Abigail Beckel is managing editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at abigail.beckel@cmpmedica.com.

Sara Michael is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at sara.michael@cmpmedica.com.

This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Physicians Practice.