2015 – The Year Doctors Got Pissed Off

My mother-in-law would be angry at me for the title of this post, but I think it’s the best description of how doctors feelings have changed in 2015. Most of the doctors I talk to are really pissed off with the state of healthcare. This has been coming for years though. I remember years ago talking to my orthopedic surgeon friend (one of the highest paid specialties for those following along at home) about how his life as a doctor had changed dramatically and he wasn’t nearly as happy doing the work now as he was even a few years ago.

Back when I was talking to my orthopedic surgeon friend this was pre-MU and so much of his complaint had to do with declining reimbursement. However, now it seems that the click happy, requirements of meaningful use which add no clinical value to the doctor or patient are starting to drive everyone nuts. Additional declines in reimbursement and ICD-10 didn’t help things either. They just through gas on an already flaming fire. It’s no surprise that Physician satisfaction is at an all time low. Unfortunately, that’s not measured by Washington.

Taking the brunt of this dissatisfaction is the EHR. In some cases, EHR’s deserve the blame. Some of them are awfully implemented and poorly designed. Some of them are relics from another life that somehow are still around. I’m reminded of Mr. Histalk’s comment that healthcare is where 80s technology goes to die. I think that’s the case with many EHR software out there.

However, I also think that in many ways the EHR is just the whipping boy. The EHR takes the blame when all they did was implement the reimbursement and regulation requirements that doctors said the EHR had to implement if they wanted them as a customer. Remember that reimbursement requirements and meaningful use have very little to do with improving patient care. If they were about patient care, we’d see very different requirements and we’d see an EHR that doctors appreciated a lot more than the behemoths we have today.

Considering the path that healthcare is taking, it’s easy to see why doctors are pissed off. 2015 was a brutal year for them. We’re trying to shift business models and I predict that most doctors will be the ones caught in the cross fire. The government and payers certainly aren’t going to take cuts. Patients and doctors are each going to take it on the chin during the transition. I think most doctors see this coming and realize it’s not going to be pretty. Most are too busy churning through patients that they don’t have time to do anything about it.

While doctors are upset at all the changes and what healthcare has become, I do think there’s reason to be hopeful. I’ll write more about that tomorrow as I look at the healthcare trends which get me really excited. While healthcare has plenty of problems, one thing it has as an advantage is a crop of really amazing people. For the most part, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff are some of the most caring, kind, thoughtful, and helpful people I know. The few bad apples often ruin it for the majority of health care workers who really want to make your life better. This alone should be cause for optimism. Tomorrow we’ll talk about other trends which make me optimistic about health care.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • John,
    Good article and I agree with you that the EHR is the whipping boy, however doctors are still buying systems that were built 20 years ago. Who is to blame for that. It reminds me of when I was in my 20’s and worked for a company that asked me to help decide on a company jet because I had past ground school. Healthcare today is changing weather we like it or not, we have to be more educated and experienced with Computer Science as well as the domain of healthcare. Cost are out of hand and technology is the only tool we have to help to solve that problem.

    The EHR is just a tool, even though you may not have the best tool it is usable until you get a better just like the first stethoscope, which many doctors believed had no use.
    There are better ways to build software that the providers need, look at SMART. However, blaming the ACA is also not the problem, fixing the ACA, not throwing it out is the solution.

  • People love to lump ACA with many of the issues I discuss above, but ACA really didn’t do much of anything when it comes to the challenges described above. It does move a little bit towards value based reimbursement, but not much. It’s HITECH Act/Meaningful Use, decreased Medicare reimbursement, ICD-10, etc which is causing the pain.

    Of course, there’s plenty of other reasons ACA should be changed. Physician anger is one of the least of those.

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