The Physicians Foundation 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians: COVID-19 Impact Edition

RPT_CoverPDFA Survey Examining How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Affecting and is Perceived by the Nation’s Physicians

Reprinted courtesy of The Physicians Foundation.
Note: This has been edited due to space constraints. For the full report report, visit https://physiciansfoundation.org.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our entire health care system. In particular, our nation’s physicians have been stretched like never before. With nearly half (49%) of US physicians believing COVID-19 won’t be under control until after June 1, 2021, America is experiencing a prolonged period of uncertainty and turmoil. Physicians are living through a historical shift in the way they practice and deliver care to patients. Not only is the delivery of care changing, but those delivering the care are also under more pressure than ever. Now is an opportunity for policymakers to rebuild a system with physicians and patients in mind.

To gauge physicians’ perspective on the pandemic’s impact, The Physicians Foundation conducted a three partsurvey series:

  • Part One: The Impact of COVID-19 on Physicians’ Practices and Their Patients
  • Part Two: The Impact of COVID-19 on Physician Wellbeing
  • Part Three: The Impact of COVID-19 and the Future of the Health Care System

Physicians’ Practices and Their Patients

Even before the pandemic, physicians were being unnecessarily
burdened by practice demands and regulatory and reimbursement mandates. In the face of ongoing uncertainty, physician practices are closing at an alarming rate, further hindering patient access to care.

  • 8% of physicians said their practices closed as a result of COVID-19 — approximately 16,000 practices.
  • 4% plan to close their practices in the next 12 months.
  • 43% of physicians reduced staff due to COVID-19.
  • 72% of physicians experienced a reduction in income due to COVID-19.
  • 12% of physicians — approximately 100,000 —switched to a primarily telemedicine practice as a result of COVID-19.
    •  52% of physicians plan to increase
  • use of telemedicine in their practices.
  • 72% of physicians indicated that COVID-19 will have serious consequences or patient health in their communities because many patients delayed getting care they needed during the pandemic.

Physician Wellbeing

Physician burnout was a public health crisis long before COVID-19. Now, we’re seeing the pandemic exacerbating this issue, which is leading to higher rates of burnout, retirement and worsening physician shortages.

  • 13% have sought medical attention for a mental health problem caused COVID-19’s effects on their practice or employment situation.
  • 37% of physicians would like to retire in the next year.
  • 58% of physicians often have feelings of burnout, compared to 40 percent in 2018.

This survey series was conducted for The Physicians Foundation by Merritt Hawkins. For the full results of each survey: https://physiciansfoundation.org/physician-leadership/physician-and-patient-surveys.