10 Trends in Physician Behavior and Compensation
1. In which regions do physicians earn more? Physician compensation can vary significantly based on geographic setting and department rank. Dermatologists in academic settings, for example, reported a median compensation of $277,765 in the Midwest. That figure was $234,936 for dermatologists in academic settings in the Western region.
2. Specialists see decline in income since 2010. The majority of medical specialties have seen decreased reimbursements since 2010, according to a survey of more than 24,000 U.S. physicians. The largest declines were in general surgery (12 percent), orthopedic surgery (10 percent), radiology (10 percent) and neurology (eight percent). Some specialists reported modest income gains, including those in ophthalmology (9 percent), pediatrics (5 percent), nephrology (4 percent), oncology (4 percent) and rheumatology (4 percent).
3. Physicians paid more as administrative tasks increase. Compensation models are evolving to meet physicians' increased administrative demands. Primary care directors responsible for community relations or strategic development reported an annual stipend of $25,000. Surgical specialty directors responsible for documentation and care planning, monitoring quality and appropriateness of medical care, or physician relations and representation reported an annual stipend of $36,000. Nonsurgical subspecialists with licensure and credentialing responsibilities earned a higher median annualized stipend ($44,586) than their peers with other duties.
4. Physicians using more healthcare apps than ever. The worldwide demand for mobile health could translate to $1.3 billion in revenues in 2012. Some of the most widely-used apps among healthcare providers include DocBook MD, a HIPPA-compliant network for physicians to communicate and collaborate to provide care for patients; Mobile MIM, an FDA-approved app enabling physicians to store X-rays and access them remotely; and Drchrono EMR, which allows physicians to complete tasks without paper records.
5. Small practices and specialists slow to adopt EHRs. Physicians in small practices, older physicians and non-primary care specialists are among the slowest to adopt electronic health records. This study found a growing gap in EHR adoption and use between physicians who are 45 or younger and physicians who are 55 or older. Midsize and large practices were found to acquire EHRs at a faster rate than small practices consisting of one or two providers. There was, however, a significant jump in the number of smaller practices implementing EHRs between 2010 and 2011 — possibly the result of the incentives for Meaningful Use of EHRs, according to study coauthor Jane Sisk of the Institute of Medicine.
6. Physicians want more online CME training. A survey reveals that 84 percent of physicians would prefer to engage in continuing medical education training online, but only 25 percent say that they participate in virtual events 'often' or 'very often.' Despite the gap between interest in and adoption of digital technology, some medical professionals say that virtual events and training will be unavoidable in the years ahead.
7. Younger physicians worry about ACA, hospital employment. More than half of young physicians are pessimistic about the future of U.S. healthcare. The study, which questioned 500 physicians under age 40, reveals widespread concern about healthcare legislation and dissatisfaction with hospital employment. Young physicians cited the Affordable Care Act as the leading reason for their pessimism, with nearly half believing that it will negatively impact their practice. Respondents also expressed concern over increased regulatory burdens and medical liability insurance premiums.
8. U.S. physicians lag in social media use, citing malpractice concerns. U.S. physicians trail physicians in other countries when it comes to social media use, and malpractice liability concerns may be the culprit. U.S. physicians lag behind the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom in social media use. Within the country, large, urban, academic and pediatric hospitals are leading the way in social media — 42 percent use it to engage patients in some capacity, the report said. But even these hospitals still lag behind the social media use among the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, which report a presence on Twitter (65 percent), Facebook (54 percent) and YouTube (50 percent).
9. Demand surges for physician CEOs. The healthcare industry has seen a surge in demand for physician and nurse executives as new types of healthcare models emerge. Requests for physicians and nurses who are prepared to lead health systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals and managed care organizations have increased markedly. Physicians in particular are beginning to exchange lab coats for a career in the C-suite, the report says, with data indicating that 64 physician CEOs are already leading U.S. healthcare systems.
10. More physicians using social media as job hunting tool. Nearly one-third of physicians used social media when searching for a job in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2010. Nearly half of the physicians, nurses and pharmacists surveyed also said they use social media for professional networking. Among all social media sites, Facebook was the most commonly used job hunting resource for 75 percent of survey respondents.
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