Dissatisfied and Disappearing Doctors: The Changing Marketing Mix

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Surgeon's facial expressionThe dues you pay to become a doctor are high. After investing ump-teen grueling years in education and training—not to mention a fortune in expense—one would hope that the average young physician would be happy with their chosen profession. But it doesn’t look like that’s the case. And the provider business model and physician marketing mix has changed dramatically.

By definition, doctors are clearly dedicated to their work. But recent survey information suggests that—after all the years of work to get into the professional ranks—many are deeply concerned about the future. And for those individuals who began their trek with a vision of a solo practice… well, that option is fast disappearing.

The evidence is in the healthcare business news. And the fast-changing marketing mix means new challenges for the healthcare marketplace.

One Study Says: While the majority (80 percent) of young physicians (40 and under) were satisfied with their present situation, more than half (57 percent) are pessimistic about the future of the healthcare system. Their gloomy view, according to the study by The Physician’s Foundation, includes concerns about increased regulatory burdens and medical liability insurance premiums. This group believes that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will negatively impact their practice. [Read more about this on the non-profit foundation’s website.]

And Another Study Says: “No One is Seeking, or Wants to Be, Marcus Welby” according to physician search and recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. “Recruitment of doctors into solo practice settings is nearly nonexistent,” their study indicated. “Only 1 percent of its search assignments in 2011/2012 (down from 22 percent 11 years ago and 2 percent in last year’s report) were for recruitments of doctors into solo practices.” [More on this from the Merritt Hawkins site.]

While some observers protest the idea that the solo practice is not “all but dead,” hospitals are clearly the dominant employer of physicians. Estimates by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) as well as published reports say that hospitals and healthcare systems employ more than half of all practicing doctors. And by Merritt’s projection, “over 75 percent of newly hired physicians will be hospital employees within two years.”

Where do you find yourself in this picture? We’d like to know if you agree with these findings or if you have a different prospective on the future.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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