Napa, CA— Last month, the nation’s largest physician-owned malpractice insurer published results from a major survey focused on the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of doctors today—and the results were sobering. From evidence of burnout across the board to major skepticism of EHR and reimbursement models, the findings stand as yet another data point in proving this valued profession is in real turmoil across the country. In fact, the survey included responses from 3,412 US physicians of varying specialty across 49 states plus the District of Columbia, and dissatisfaction and worry were evident across the map.

A Few Key Highlights from The Doctors Company’s The Future of Healthcare Survey:

The vast majority of doctors (7 in 10) wouldn’t recommend pursuing their profession. Direct quotes from respondents included:

“If I had to start today I would choose another field of endeavor.”

—Primary Care Physician

“I am the child of two physicians. Knowing what I do now, my wife and I, both physicians, would discourage our children from pursuing medicine.”

—Nonsurgical Specialist

And age, specialty and geography all impacted responses to this question:

  • Only 21% of middle-aged physicians (41-50) would recommend their career choice (the lowest in the survey)
  • Primary care physicians were more likely to recommend their pursuit of medicine (29%) than surgical specialists (23%)
  • Michigan and Oregon had the most respondents willing to recommend their profession (31%), while Florida and Illinois were at the bottom with only 20%

Most Doctors Feel EHRs Have a Negative Impact on both Their Practices and Their Relationships With Patients

  • 54% believe EHRs had a negative impact on the physician-patient relationship
  • 61% said EHRs hurt efficiency and productivity as well as their workflow
  • Only 14% reported a positive experience with EHR vendors

A few standout responses include:

“EHR is a complete waste of time. To ask a physician to function as a scribe is inefficient.”


“EHR and documentation burden will make physicians get out of the profession.”

—Primary Care Physician

“Good eye-to-eye patient care is dying. Computers have decreased the physician-to-patient relationship. Doctors can’t type and have good patient observation and attention simultaneously.”


Why This Matters—

As healthcare marketers, physicians are a primary audience for our messages and interactions. We live in a world of brand strategic imperatives, key performance initiatives, and behavioral objectives, and that’s essential to much of our strategic thinking. But how often do we truly put our physicians’ daily realities at the center of our approach? Perhaps Aristotle could have survived as a savvy marketer today, as a few millennia ago he was already claiming that “the fool tells me his reasons—the wise persuade me with my own.”

Today healthcare brands have an opportunity to authentically connect with physicians, acknowledging their challenges, engaging on their terms and timelines, and offering solutions that fit into their new workstreams. Messages that remind each why she fell in love with medicine in her youth and tools that transform EHR into a value-add stand to win attention and engagement in 2019 and beyond.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.