On Doctors: Financially, Politically, and Professionally

NOVEMBER 22, 2016
Greg Kelly
“No wealth can ever make a bad man at peace with himself.”
—Plato



With another election season done, let’s get back to back to what really matters in life—money, politics, and career… and how they impact the evolving medical profession.

Jackson Healthcare, a top player in healthcare staffing and technology (Jeb Bush is back on their board), is out with its Physician Trends 2016 Report. I took a tour through its contents and found some points of interest. A few things for doctors to consider as the presidential race smoke clears:

Financial — It’s a proper doctor who knows they are worth their fee, so said my physician-dad. But for some glory gone, doctor compensation continues to keep a steady advance. The report offered some numbers on doctor pay and a “top earner” profile. The average pay for family doctors was $207,000 and for pediatricians it was $204,000. Top physician earners for 2016 were in the following specialties: Orthopedics, $443,000; Cardiology, $410,000; Dermatology, $381,000; Gastroenterology, $380,000; and Radiology, $375,000. The blueprint for the top earning doctor was “self-employed, male, and living in the north/central region of the nation.” No change there.

Political — Whether it be a repeal, a reform, a review (or a further undermining of doctor-patient relationships), something is going to happen to the Obamacare program—no question. And the report shows that doctors are onboard for any change: 66% want to see a repeal and 74% believe Congress will make reforms. Most doctors said the federal health law raised their costs. The average doctor still sees about 22 patients per day and gives each patient about 20 minutes of time. Doctors accept that change is the price of survival, but that’s hardly improving healthcare.

Professional — The report data show that the typically “satisfied physician” today, is under age 45, works a regular eight-hour day, has never had skin in a private medical practice, puts lifestyle on par with career, and likes patients who pay with private health insurance. Perhaps that’s as it should be. We’ll see. The doctors of tomorrow—92% of residents—say they want salaried employment over independent practice income. And the report also spotlighted the prospect of telemedicine—most and patients (64%) and doctors (57%) are warm to the idea. Even bigger change.


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