Top Five Issues for Docs and Patients Identified for 2013

Issues include access to care, physician shortages, preparation for 30 million new patients

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The top five issues that will impact physicians and patients in 2013 have been identified, according to a report published Dec. 10 by The Physicians Foundation.

Based on research studies and policy papers issued by The Physicians Foundation in 2012, researchers from The Foundation have identified five key issues likely to impact physicians and patients in 2013.

According to the report, there is ongoing uncertainty regarding implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and this uncertainty is a key factor contributing to 77 percent of physicians being pessimistic about the future of medicine. Consolidation of smaller and solo private practices is continuing, but it is unclear whether there will be possible unintended consequences related to patient access and cost of care. The start of 2013 marks a 12-month countdown to the introduction of more than 30 million new patients to the U.S. health care system via the PPACA, which will likely affect patient access to care and cause physician shortages if current practices of reduced physician hours continue. Factors such as problematic reimbursements, liability pressures, and a burdensome regulatory environment are resulting in erosion of physician autonomy in clinical decision-making. Finally, growing administrative burdens are impacting physicians and the time they have available for patients.

"It is clear that lawmakers need to work closely with physicians to ensure that we are well prepared to meet the demands of 30 million new patients in the health care system and to effectively address the impending doctor shortage and growing patient access crisis," Lou Goodman, Ph.D., president of The Physicians Foundation, said in a statement.

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