Viewpoint: Dwindling autonomy is driving physicians into early retirement — 5 takeaways

Across specialties, physicians are losing autonomy and control — and as a result, they're leaving practice early, according to retired OB-GYN Valerie A. Jones, MD.

Dr. Jones shared her viewpoint in an article on Medpage Today's KevinMD.com. Five takeaways:

1. Early retirement is enticing physicians in primary care, obstetrics and emergency medicine, but frustration is also growing among physicians in well-compensated, sought-after specialties such as radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology and dermatology, Dr. Jones said.

2. Profit-seeking payers and non-clinical healthcare administrators are pressuring physicians to "see more, do more," according to Dr. Jones. When non-clinicians run healthcare organizations like a business — without knowledge of the medical implications — physicians face "denials for patient care, refusals of requests for adequate visit time with patients and a blocking of advocacy for patients," Dr. Jones said.

3. Physicians are excluded from decisions about how money is allocated, how long patient visits should last and what conditions should be covered under insurance, Dr. Jones said.

"These decisions simply cannot and should not be made by MBAs or politicians who know nothing about the medical implications of their business decisions," she said.

4. The percentage of self-employed physicians is shrinking because physicians are reluctant to take out additional loans to start their own practices. After residency, providers increasingly seek employed positions for an immediate salary and guaranteed perks.

5. To combat growing frustration among medical professionals, physicians and healthcare organizations should push for hospitals and ASCs to be run by clinicians instead of businesspeople.

"This is the only way the brick wall, which is putting a barrier between physicians and the highest quality of care they want to provide for patients, will begin to crumble," she said.

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