2010 Great American Physician Survey: Dollars, D.C., and Danger

September 30, 2010

You are already dealing with a potential Medicare reimbursement drop, pondering your relationship with an EHR, and managing the day-to-day operations of your practice. But what about issues outside of your work life? Well, it seems to come down to dollars, D.C., and danger.

Note: This is the third in a series of blog entries about the results of our 2010 Physicians Practice Great American Physician Survey. Full results of the survey and other related blog entries are now available here.

You are already dealing with a potential Medicare reimbursement drop, pondering your relationship with an EHR, and managing the day-to-day operations of your practice. But what about issues outside of your work life? Well, it seems to come down to dollars, D.C., and danger.

As part of our 2010 Great American Physician Survey, we asked physicians to rank a series of issues based on their importance. Of the 10 topics given, the following garnered a ranking of 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important):

The economy95.3%
Healthcare reform87.3%
Terrorism73.1%Education reform72.1%Crime 71.0%Iraq / Afghanistan63.7%Environment / Global warming57.8%
Preserving/altering gun-control laws52.1%
Preserving/altering abortion laws43.0%
Preserving/altering civil marriage laws37.1%

(Note: The option of "Other" was also presented, with respondents asked to type in issues of concern. Issues noted more than twice were tort reform, Israel / The Middle East, smaller government, and immigration.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the economy took top honors as it affects physicians both at work and at home. Again, no real shocker that healthcare reform took second place for the same reasons and the continued uncertainty resulting from the Affordable Care Act.

Coming in third, however, was terrorism, edging out education reform by only one percent. Crime rounded out the top five concerns by our survey respondents.

The top five this year was the same as they were in 2009. The economy and health reform garnered similar high percentages (96.4 percent and 87.7 percent respectively), but it was education reform that topped terrorism for the third highest concern among you and your peers. Crime remained in the number five spot in 2009 as it did this year.

The results of our survey mirror those from other polling sources, including Gallup and Pew Research, regarding Americans' opinions on top concerns in our nation conducted this year.

But our Great American Physician poll reflects you – the medical professional and your thoughts on the world. With that in mind, we need to look at your answers through a physician's point-of-view.

Perhaps it is the fact that harm to others, whether through a terrorist attack or a crime in your community, has a direct correlation as you treat the impact of such incidents. Many of you have come into contact with victims, perhaps heightening your awareness into the physical and psychological results.

Maybe on the heels of an H1N1 scare earlier this year, physicians realized what a large-scale bioterrorism incident could do and how such activity would impact their practice and/or local hospital, hence heightening awareness.

Regarding education reform, our survey also indicates that just about 8 in every 10 survey respondents are married and 6 out of every 10 of you have children. Our survey indicates the majority of you with children have one or two young ones at home.

Just as you are concerned about the safety of those around you and their futures, you are also concerned about the future of young people, including your own.

Documentaries like "Waiting for Superman" are taking an in-depth look at our nation's educational successes, but mostly failures and the Obama Administration has also recently focused its microscope on our nation's classrooms. The consensus seems to be that more needs to be done, but the solutions vary.

As physicians, your education was a key element of where you are today. It is no wonder that one of your top five concerns is education and the pathway it presents to today's young people.

I've shared my theories on your answers, but now it is your turn. Weigh in below to tell me if I'm on the mark or way off base when it comes to today's current affairs and what is on your radar.