Physician Staffing Blog

Healthcare News and Trends

Physician Practice Patterns Changing As A Result Of COVID-19 [Survey]

April 21, 2020

Physicians and COVID-19

By Phillip Miller, VP at Merritt Hawkins

Virtually everyone in the United States has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, though it has been a particular challenge and strain on physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

In order to gauge how physicians have been affected by and are responding to the pandemic, Merritt Hawkins, in collaboration with The Physicians Foundation, conducted a survey that was emailed to physicians nationwide April 11-13.

Results of the survey are both encouraging and concerning.

The survey indicates that close to half of all physicians (48%) are treating patients through telemedicine, up from 18% in 2018, demonstrating that they are quickly embracing technology that increases access to their patients and maintains continuity of care. Of those physicians who are not seeing Covid-19 patients, 60% indicated they are willing to do so, suggesting that there is extra capacity in the physician workforce (and an admirable willingness among doctors) to treat those who have contracted the virus.

In addition, though the pandemic has caused great stress among many physicians, very few indicated they are unable to continue treating patients.

Of more concern is the fact that one-third of physicians indicated that they will change practice settings, leave patient care roles, temporarily shut their practices or retire in response to COVID-19. This may pose a challenge to hospitals and other healthcare organizations were already struggling with physician shortages and turnover once the virus is contained and procedures, treatments and tests resume.

“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians were expressing dissatisfaction in their jobs and experiencing high rates of burnout and mental health issues caused by stressors like regulatory burdens and EHR use,” said Gary Price M.D., President of The Physicians Foundation. “The pandemic is straining physicians further and we need to prioritize providing solutions that will ease the financial and emotional burdens they are feeling as a means to improve their wellbeing now and after the crisis is resolved. It is the least we can do for the health care workers who are risking their lives to take care of everyone else.”

The survey offers additional data regarding physician response to the Covid-19 virus, and you can download it here.

Phillip Miller is Vice President of Communications for Merritt Hawkins and Staff Care, companies of AMN Healthcare (NYSE: AMN), the largest healthcare staffing organization in the United States and the innovator of healthcare staffing solutions.

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