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5 General Challenges Physicians will be Facing in 2015

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Concluding our look at the “Top 15 Challenges Facing Physicians in 2015,” courtesy of Medical Economics and reporters Ken Terry, Alison Ritchie, Donna Marbury, Lisa Smith, and Elaine Pofeldt, here are five general challenges job-seeking physicians may want to ask about before accepting employment with a practice or a hospital.

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1. Payers Dictating Healthcare: Why payer interference is increasing.

This pretty much applies to an organization’s record-keeping. How thorough and how accurate is it?

Here’s why this is important: According to the article, “Physicians have to deal with a range of audits tied to Meaningful Use and other programs. The federal government can audit Medicare patients’ charts, while individual states can audit records for Medicaid patients, since they fund Medicaid, up to 10 years after a patient’s treatment, notes Tatiana Melnik, JD, an attorney specializing in technology and healthcare IT in Tampa, Fla.”

And for that reason, Melnik advises: “It’s very important that they print out the information and keep it in a binder. If the audit takes place six years from now, they are still going to have to produce that information.”

And this is “just one sign of a trend toward payers influencing--or some would say dictating--patient care…,” the writers add.

2. Patients dictating healthcare: The problem with patient satisfaction.

Joshua J. Fenton, MD, MPH, associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, Davis, made the following observation about patient satisfaction: “The challenge for clinicians is that the goal of patient satisfaction isn’t always aligned with the goal of providing high-value care. I assume this is true in other specialties, but in primary care, there can be tension between what a patient wants and expects and what the provider believes to be clinically important and evidence-based.”

When you’re interviewing with a practice or a hospital, ask questions about patient satisfaction. Find out what their philosophy is and how they will evaluate your performance based on that philosophy.

3. Keeping pace with technology: Technology burdens and the medical practice.

We’ve referenced this before, but find out what an organization’s IT costs are, what IT investments they’re planning to make, how IT is impacting administrative costs, where they stand with an EHR, and the quality of the technology in which they’re investing.

As one expert told Medical Economics, “To keep costs down, many practices have selected low-cost or free EHRs. Those products work well for some physicians, depending on their circumstances... But some practices have found that such EHRs fall short of their expectations.”

4. Staff Retention: How to keep your staff superstars happy.

What kind of staff is the practice or hospital in need of? How do they retain staff? How do they reward employees? What are their turnover rates? Why is the position for which you’re applying available? Is there a way to find out why your predecessor left?

“The Center for American Progress estimates that for workers earning less than $50,000 annually, it will cost employers approximately 20 percent of that employee’s salary to find a replacement,” the article observes.

5. Avoiding Liability: The ACA’s impact on malpractice.

Here’s some valuable information from the article: “A 2014 report from Aon Risk Solutions projects the frequency of claims per class 1 (internal medicine) physician in 2014 to be 3.37 percent, and the severity of claims to be $185,000 per claim. The projected frequency of claims by Aon in 2014 was 2.97 percent per class 1 physician, with a price tag of $203,000 per claim.

“Aon projects the loss rate for physician professional liability to be $6,230 per class 1 physician for incidents occurring in 2015, up from $6,030 in 2014.

“The 2015 projected loss rate for hospital general liability is $125 per occupied bed versus $119 in 2014, while the average general liability claim is expected to be $38,000 for claims occurring in 2015, up from 2014’s projection of $36,000. The report draws on data from all U.S. states and provides specific benchmarks for 27 states and the District of Columbia.”

How many malpractice claims has the practice or hospital fielded in the last few years? How do they seek to avoid malpractice? Do their physicians practice defensive medicine?

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We trust you’ve found these last few posts to be informative to your job search. What challenges would you add to the issues we’ve discussed? What are the greatest concerns you have about your career as you face your next position?

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