Physicians Overwhelmed by Paperwork Have Options

September 29, 2016

A new survey finds that disillusioned doctors are struggling to adapt to changing delivery and payment models. Hybrid concierge provides a way out.

The Physicians Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower physicians and improve healthcare, just released a report that said physicians in the U.S. are struggling to maintain morale and adapt to changing delivery and payment models, while still providing patients with access to care. The report, based on a survey of more than 17,000 physicians across the country, identified regulatory and paperwork burdens and loss of clinical autonomy as the primary sources of their dissatisfaction.

What was most striking, though not surprising to us, is that "patient relationships" was overwhelmingly (73 percent) identified as the greatest source of satisfaction amongst practicing physicians. Intellectual stimulation followed at almost 59 percent.

Is there a way for physicians to reduce the burdens of declining reimbursements and the loss of clinical autonomy, while also boosting what they love about the practice of medicine - the relationships they have with patients and the ability to take time for continued learning? We believe there is, and it can be accomplished without taking physicians out of traditional patient care roles.

Hybrid concierge is the solution. It allows physicians to maintain their traditional practice, see all of their patients, and create a concierge option for those patients who want more time and enhanced service from their physician. This is a win-win model for both patients and physicians.

For patients, especially the aging baby boomer population, the healthcare landscape has grown complicated. Many patients juggle multiple providers, Medicare and insurance plans, and could really use the help of a professional medical advocate to secure the proper appointments and to help them understand their testing and treatment regimens in the context of their whole health history. These patients can elect to join a physician's optional concierge program and get the enhanced service they want.

The physician is able to do what he loves to do most - build on the relationships he has with patients, spending more time on lifestyle counseling, emotional support, and advocacy. The concierge program also provides the practice with a private revenue stream that buffers the effects of declining reimbursements. In many cases, the extra income is exactly what physicians need to keep their practice private - it allows them to maintain the clinical autonomy that so many physicians feel is slipping away.

The hybrid concierge approach is not just a solution for participating members and physicians-it also serves the patients who choose NOT to join. The Physicians Foundation report stated that nearly half of surveyed physicians were planning on retiring early or opting out of the traditional model of care altogether. At a time when media is reporting physician shortages, this hurts patient access. But in a hybrid approach, physicians can continue their traditional practice, seeing all patients and accepting Medicare and other insurance plans. Patients are not dismissed from the practice for not joining, unlike full-model concierge programs or direct pay models.

We applaud the Physicians Foundation for demonstrating the passion for high-quality patient care that today's physicians continue to hold dear, despite the challenges placed upon them. Practicing physicians (even specialists) should be sure to explore all options for maximizing their patient time while maintaining the traditional practice they love.