The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has accomplished an impressive feat—since its implementation in 2010, nearly 17 million Americans have gained health insurance. The shift has, however, has flooded the healthcare system with new patients. The upside is that more patients are getting seen; the downside, according to a new study by CompHealth, is that doctors are struggling to keep up.
This graphic from the study shows that physicians are feeling overwhelmed by “busy work.” (See full study.)
Released mid-April, the study is a survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. physicians in all specialties and types of practice across the nation. The findings showed that physicians across the U.S. have been grappling with new challenges, including:
- reduced time with patients
- increased time spend doing mandatory data entry and paperwork
- decreased income since the ACA
Moreover, a third of the physicians surveyed stated that they now felt more inclined to leave the medical profession. Many also reported seeking additional employment to supplement their income. Ultimately, physicians agree that ACA offers patients greater access to healthcare—but at greater cost to physicians, as you can see in this image:
Other studies on the topic have shown similar findings.
A Forbes article from January of this year references a recent analysis of data from 7,000 physicians over three years, researched by experts at the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association. Researchers found that physicians’ work-life balance has been worsening, with the percentage of physicians reporting burnout symptoms rising to 54 percent in 2014, up from 45 percent in 2011.
Obviously, it’s a complex problem with no easy solutions. In the interim, says Melissa Byington, president of CompHealth, exploring locum tenens work may be one way to reduce increased on-the-job stressors.
“With the country facing an increasing shortage of physicians, it is crucial that we find ways to keep doctors in medicine,” says Byington. “As advocates for physicians, we at CompHealth believe that temporary locum tenens assignments are a way for physicians to combat some of the frustrations they’re feeling with the Affordable Care Act—less time with patients, reduced compensation, and more paperwork—so they can continue caring for patients.”
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