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Psychiatrists Lament Loss of Autonomy in "Business" of Medicine


10/10/2007 12:00:00 AM


Psychiatrists Lament Loss of Autonomy in "Business" of Medicine Physician Survey Ties Frustration to Administration, Reimbursement

ALPHARETTA, GA, October 10, 2007 If they could change one thing about the practice of medicine, what would psychiatrists change? The majority of answers received by recruiting firm in a recent online physician survey focused on gaining greater autonomy for psychiatrists in dictating clinical decisions.

Among 377 psychiatrist answers to this open-ended physician survey question were these:

"More time for patients than papers."

"(Turn) mangled managed care back into physician-directed and patient-focused care."

"Improve physician empowerment, e.g., taking back control from insurance companies and improving mental health parity."

"Fewer patients per day, more staff support, more time off."

"The big business of medicine as ruled by insurance companies and health care systems is one thing I would change, but I know these entities are here to stay."

"Of all medical specialists, psychiatrists probably get second-guessed most stringently by third-party payers," Executive Vice President Michael Davis said. "That's because mental health care benefits aren't as generous as physical health care benefits in most insurance plans today." He noted that psychiatrists are gathering in Orlando starting tomorrow for the annual United States Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress.

Among 451 psychiatrists responding to the national physician survey, only 4% said they were not frustrated about practicing medicine in today's healthcare marketplace. The remaining respondents identified with a list of possible frustrations as follows:

  • Administrative and business agendas interfere with clinical decisions - 34%
  • Reimbursement issues - 26%
  • Lifestyle issues: Too much time at work - 12%
  • Medical liability issues - 11%

Thirty-nine percent of responding psychiatrists said they planned to change jobs within the next year and, including those, more than half (52%) said they planned to change jobs within 2 years. Thirty-eight percent of respondents cited 'higher compensation' as the top reason for making a job change, while 27% cited 'better work environment.' However, 37% said they had no plans to change jobs in the foreseeable future (down from 43% of 2006 respondents).

Career Choices Compared

Despite their frustration, more than three-fourths of responding psychiatrists (79%) said they would choose medicine as a career path if they had it to do over again. This compares with 77% of 2006 psychiatrist respondents and with physicians from other specialties as follows:

  • 77% of cardiologists
  • 76% of internists
  • 75% of pediatricians
  • 69% of anesthesiologists
  • 65% of orthopedic surgeons and radiologists
  • 59% of obstetricians/gynecologists

Sixty-one percent of responding psychiatrists were male, 73% were board-certified, and 80% were employed full-time. Respondents had practiced psychiatry for an average of 19 years. Only about a third (32%) of respondents said they had worked as a locum tenens provider, but another 58% said they might consider it.

Media Contact:
Deb Zelnio
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