|CSMS Issues Physician Workforce Survey Report
A report polling Connecticut physician perceptions about
their careers and practices and exploring their impact on patient
access to medical care was issued by the Connecticut State Medical
What emerged from the research is a snapshot of a health
system in deterioration which could be affecting citizens’ access
to medically necessary care.
"For years, we’ve been sharing stories of
physicians leaving Connecticut or retiring early, but until now, we
have not had any valid research to prove it," said CSMS Immediate Past
President Dr. Angelo S. Carrabba. "We conducted this survey and put it
through the rigors of peer review because we need decision-makers and
policy-makers to have a statistically valid picture when they discuss
reforming Connecticut’s healthcare system."
Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut provided
financial support for the study, which polled 1,077 physicians in 17
The results show that 19 percent of responding
physicians are contemplating a career change and 10 percent plan to
leave the state because of Connecticut’s practice environment. At
the same time, 47 percent of physicians reported increasing their hours
while new patients wait an average of 17 days for an office visit
statewide and longer in Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven and Windham
counties. Overall, 38 percent of physicians said they have cut back on
high-risk procedures they perform.
The challenges in Connecticut’s practice
environment include professional liability rates, and the
administrative requirements of medicine tied to managed care
constraints. The physicians surveyed were less than "somewhat likely"
to recommend a colleague practice in our state. Not surprisingly, it is
taking months and even years to recruit new physicians in specialties
such as urology, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, the report said.
Overall, 35 percent say it is "very difficult" to
recruit new physicians, with those in Litchfield, NewLondon and Windham
counties describing the most difficulty.
Connecticut physicians are having trouble obtaining
referrals for their patients. In particular, the report said, 90
percent of emergency physicians and 72 percent of pediatricians –
those which make a very high frequency of referrals to other doctors
– report having more difficulty obtaining referrals over the past
three years. Some barriers to making referrals are health plan
restrictions, supply of physicians in certain areas, reimbursement
rates and malpractice concerns.
The study asked physicians their opinions of various
healthcare reform concepts, data that CSMS will make available to
lawmakers as they debate and make decisions about changes in the
healthcare system. Physician respondents were supportive of creating a
large insurance pool to cover the uninsured, those on public insurance
programs and others; and of expanding current safety-net programs.
Physicians were equally divided in the support of, or opposition to, a
single-payor program to cover all Connecticut residents. Their
responses suggest that Connecticut physicians feel that some sort of
system reform is necessary, though its ultimate form is not yet clear.
The report was published in the journal Connecticut Medicine.
Address: Connecticut States Medical Society, 160 Ronan St., New Haven, CT 06511; (203) 865-0587, www.csms.org.