MONTPELIER- Vermont doctors are feeling left out of the health-care reform process, according to a new report published by the Vermont Medical Society Education and Research Foundation.
Doctors are facing rising time and financial pressures, according to the report.
Titled "The 2011 Physician Needs Assessment," the report concludes that the problems faced by doctors may eventually threaten health-care quality in the Green Mountain State.
"The study was conducted by the foundation in order to gain actionable insight about the concerns of Vermont's physicians and their patients," said John Brumsted, M.D., chief medical officer at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the foundation's president. "The timing and findings of the assessment are particularly important as the state embarks on an ambitious health care reform effort.
Brumsted said anxiety in the physician community is directly linked to the uncertainty caused by state and national health care reforms.
"This report is the first step toward working with doctors as well as members of the government, business, and health-care communities to help understand and address the implications of reform and create solutions that will lead to better patient care," Brumsted added.
Paula Duncan, M.D., president of the Vermont Medical Society, and a critics of state health care reform, said the report is a warning shot.
"The assessment has provided a very clear picture of what is troubling physicians in the state," Duncan said. "The society is going to take what we've learned and use them as the basis of our future advocacy efforts on behalf of the state's physicians and their patients."
Brumsted said the report, which was developed through a series of interviews with a sampling of Vermont physicians, identified three long-term trends:
1. Physicians don't have enough time to devote to each patient, according to the report:"Physicians strongly feel that the current practice environment allows too little time to see their patients and requires too much time attending to financial, regulatory and administrative requirements," the report stated.
2. The report reveals that many physicians feel left out of health-care reform discussions by legislators.
"Physicians...(fear)...losing their traditional role as keepers of their professional ethic...,"according to the report. "These trends are leading to a growing number of physicians making the transition from private independent practice to being employed."
3. The report provides some actions that may ease physician anxieties-"Creating a Vermont Practitioners' Resource Center, which will help physicians identify problems such as reimbursement for physician and staff time spent on administrative activities, professional isolation, falling job satisfaction, future recruitment of new peers, and acquisition of leadership skills," according to the report. The report also encouraged "convening the Vermont Partnership for Value and Science-driven Health Care to analyze, evaluate and make recommendations about health care utilization, costs, safety, and quality."