Top 5 Physician Trends for 2015

Top 5 Physician Trends for 2015
Senior Director of Marketing

As we say goodbye to 2014, I thought I would review five key trends for physicians in the New Year and beyond. The following trends were included in a recent webinar, “Top 10 Physician Trends You Must Prepare For in 2015”, presented by Robin Rose, Vice President at HealthStream Research. As Rose mentioned during the presentation, there are certainly more physician trends than the ones covered in the webinar (and certainly within the scope of this article), but the following represent my top five trends to prepare for in 2015 and beyond.

1. Most Physicians are Pessimistic About the Future

According to the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians, conducted for The Physicians Foundation by Merrit Hawkins, 55.6% of physicians are pessimistic about the current state of the medical profession. Their pessimistic outlook is a result of the amount of unprecedented change facing the healthcare industry, yet it’s not all bad news. While the majority of physicians remain pessimistic, the percentage has declined from 68.2% just a few years ago. Unsurprisingly, younger physicians are more optimistic than older ones. In addition, female physicians, employed physicians and primary care physicians are also more optimistic about the future of the medical profession when compared to older physicians, male physicians, practice owners and other specialists.

2. Physicians Face Unique Challenges by the Newly Insured

According to a recent Gallup poll, about 4% of Americans were newly insured in 2014, which represents around 9 million Americans that have entered the healthcare system. As a result, physicians are being asked by patients to fill the role of “insurance counselor” for those that are new to healthcare insurance. An estimated half of newly insured Americans do not have a primary care physician, which means there’s an increased burden for hospitals. According to the Health Resource and Services Administration, nearly 20 percent of Americans live in areas with an insufficient number of primary care doctors. Therefore, there will continue to be an increased demand for primary care physicians over the next years. Healthcare organizations and physicians will have to work around the challenges brought by the influx of newly insured patients.

3. The ICD-10 Deadline is Around the Corner

The official deadline to implement the ICD-10 codes is October 1, 2015, which is the extension granted in April 2014. Although physicians don’t typically code themselves, they will have to enhance their documentation processes to support ICD-10 compliance. With thousands of new codes added under the new system, making the transition is no small task. By this time, healthcare organizations should look into testing the new system at their facilities before the deadline arrives. If your organization is still in the early stages of implementing ICD-10, I wrote an article in January 2014 with 4 tips to help you prepare for compliance. With careful planning and testing, there’s still enough time to meet the deadline.

4. Most Physicians are Now Employees

This is not a new trend by any means, but physician employment has been on the rise for a few years now. According to the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians, over half of physicians (52.6%) are now employed by a hospital or medical group. The rise in these numbers has been very dramatic over the past several years. Another study, Medscape’s 2014 Employed Doctors Report, found that almost two-thirds (64%) of physicians would recommend employment over self-employment to their fellow physicians. For hospitals, this means that medical staff services departments cannot remain as a silo. In order to be successful in 2015, medical services professionals must collaborate with HR to ensure that employed physicians are accounted for as well. This means having a process for physician surveys and aligning background check and credentialing processes for both appointed and employed physicians.  

5. Telemedicine is on the Rise

According to a 2014 report by Towers Watson, 22% of employers with more than 1,000 employees offer telemedicine consultations as low cost options to emergency department and primary care physician visits. The telemedicine market is expected to be a $25 billion market in 2015. Starting in January 2015, CMS will add 7 new telehealth reimbursement codes, including annual wellness visits, psychotherapy services and prolonged services in the office. With the government recognizing the importance of telemedicine, physicians and healthcare organizations can help improve the delivery of care by investing in new technologies.

Are you reviewing your healthcare organization’s physician background check policy for 2015? Contact us to learn how PreCheck can help you streamline your background screening initiatives.

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