HR Resources Database

HR Resources Database November 2012

The Future of Healthcare from a Recruiter’s Perspective

Pamela Colquhoun

A recent study by The Doctors Company found that doctors are being forced to rethink the way they practice medicine. The study, titled The Future of Health Care: A National Survey of Physicians, surveyed more than 5,000 doctors in the U.S., and results illustrate a level of uncertainty among doctors in regards to the accelerating pace of change that exists in the industry today. Not only are doctors reportedly feeling unsure about their future in the industry, but the survey concluded nine out of ten physicians are unwilling to recommend healthcare as a profession.

Many Canadian physicians can relate to the key themes driving this sentiment among our American neighbours. Doctors are feeling insecure about future practice models. An overwhelming majority feel healthcare reform will have a negative impact on patient care, specifically with regards to pressures to reduce cost. Doctors are also concerned about the potential for healthcare reform to erode their earning power, and it is even motivating many to change their retirement timeline.

Experts suggest we are going to see more change in the world of healthcare in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 200. The industry must think big and accomplish massive change. And the need for such change is urgent. As an associate partner with Four Corners Group, where I specialize as a physician recruiter, I see many physicians enhancing their leadership skills and seeking out administrative positions in addition to their clinical roles in public and/or private healthcare organizations. 

Predicting Change

When it comes to changing practice models, doctors participating in the study say change may not take place rapidly. More than half of the survey respondents said that they do not plan to change practice models within the next five years. Only 20 per cent of doctors plan to shift practice models or make other changes, such as practicing part-time, leaving medicine for a different career, or retiring. A total of 24 per cent of doctors did not select a future practice model, suggesting that respondents feel substantial uncertainty about their prospects. 

The Impact of Healthcare Reform

A total of 60 per cent of doctors surveyed believe healthcare reform will have a negative impact on overall patient care. Many suggest that physicians will have little to no input or control in regards to the provision of patient care. They are also worried that healthcare reform could compromise the doctor-patient relationship, due to decreased reimbursement and, therefore, pressure to see more patients. 

78% of doctors believe that healthcare reform will have a negative impact on their earnings. Not only are reimbursements for services dropping substantially, but the consolidation of medicine is also making it more difficult for doctors in private practice to compete, the report states. Doctors also suggest legal requirements and bureaucracy are making it more difficult to serve and satisfy patients. In some cases, decreasing income is causing doctors to delay retirement. Forty-three per cent of physician respondents contemplate retiring in the next five years, according to the survey. 

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the most discouraging statistic of all is the response illustrating nine out of ten physicians are unwilling to recommend the medical profession to their children or other family members. The report highlighted comments for physicians who admit they have steered children away from MD degrees, or discouraged family and friends from pursuing a career in medicine. 

There is no doubt the healthcare industry in Canada requires dramatic change. Many pure clinicians are now taking additional courses to greater strengthen their administrative skillset. These clinicians are thriving in much needed physician leadership roles and are becoming fulfilled in doing so. We need to continue this trend, and acquire leaders with fresh ideas; physicians who not only want to talk about change, but want to make change happen. In order to bring the future of healthcare to Canada, we need to think big. 

About the Author(s)

 Pamela Colquhoun is Associate Partner at Four Corners Group, Inc. She can be reached at


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