Turnover of primary care physicians results in about $979 million in excess healthcare expenditures annually for payers, according to a study published Feb. 26 in ScienceDirect.
The study, led by the American Medical Association, estimated that each time a primary care physician leaves their practice, it results in $86,336 in additional healthcare spending the following year. When patients lose their primary care physicians, they may, for example, opt for more expensive specialty physicians, urgent care centers or emergency departments.
Of the $979 million in excess expenditures, $260 million, or 27 percent, was attributed to burnout-related turnover.
The study surveyed 5,197 U.S. primary care physicians between Oct. 12, 2017, and March 14, 2018, to gauge burnout and physicians' intention to leave their practice within two years.
The study found that roughly 11,339 primary care physicians were expected to leave their current practice per year, and physicians with burnout have a 2.16 higher odds of intending to leave their current practice. Reducing physician burnout could reduce unnecessary healthcare expenditures, the study authors concluded.