Survey Results from Physicians Nationwide Reveal Patient Access to Physicians Now on Life Support

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The pending vote by Congress to roll back Medicare payments to physicians will likely leave many patients with diminished access to physicians according to discussions that more than 70,000 American physicians are currently having on Sermo (http://www.sermo.com/).

The most comprehensive survey of the practicing physician community is underway on Sermo, and in just a few days, 1,150 practicing physicians have already offered data on how Medicare cuts would seriously impact their patients and their practice. 90% of physicians say that the proposed decrease in physician reimbursement on all Medicare cases would negatively impact their ability to accept new Medicare patients. 63% of physicians indicate cuts would require they reserve less time in their schedules for Medicare patients, while 70% would have to consider switching to a cash-only practice. In equally large numbers, 88% of physicians say financial pressures would impact their ability to care for patients. They also describe the need to increase patient volume and spend less time with patients to offset payment cuts. 20% concluded they would need to lay off office staff who provide services to their patients. In a surprising turn, over 60% of physicians surveyed said they would have to consider changing careers as a result of the increasing financial pressures to provide medical care.

Despite the House of Representatives passing the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act designed to prevent the proposed cut, Congress is expected to have the final say with a vote slated for this week following the Congressional recess. “There’s a disconnect between public debate on national healthcare expenditure, with the physician voice noticeably absent,� said Daniel Palestrant, MD and CEO of Sermo. “The Sermo community, whose core purpose has been to facilitate communication between, and aggregate the collective opinion of physicians, is determined to have a stronger and more visible voice during this Medicare debate.�

Highlighting another alarming finding, an incredible 99% of physicians responding to the Sermo physician survey agreed that the general public does not understand the bureaucratic and financial struggles physicians face in providing healthcare in the United States. Physicians believe that the public has very little appreciation regarding the cost of providing physician care including office expenses, malpractice, and unfunded government mandates. 85% of physicians believe that these cuts will make it prohibitive for physicians to accept medicare patients and thus affect patient access to physician care, whether that be specialty or primary care. This strong sentiment is not surprising given that thousands of physicians from across the country recently announced they’d drafted and signed “the Open Letter from America’s Physicians,� which describes the critical challenges physicians face under the current U.S. healthcare system to deliver quality care to their patients.

Sermo’s online physician community has created a national forum for information exchange that exemplifies how technology is changing the face of medicine. With 70,000 practicing physician participants, Sermo has become a secure venue for physicians to exchange the latest medical thinking daily. “The Medicare and overall healthcare system in this Country is in dire straits,� added Palestrant. “This proposed Medicare cut to physicians will ultimately further jeopardize those patients already faced with limitations on healthcare treatment.�

About Sermo

Sermo is the largest online community exclusively for physicians with nearly 70,000 members in the US. On Sermo, physicians exchange knowledge with each other and gain potentially life-saving insights directly from colleagues. Sermo harnesses the power of collective wisdom and enables physicians to discuss new clinical findings, report unusual events, and work together to improve patient care. Through its unique business model, Sermo has created a marketplace that brings value to the knowledge of practicing physicians. By participating, physicians are reimbursed by institutions in healthcare, financial services and government for their insights. For more information about Sermo, visit http://www.sermo.com/.

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