Physicians Report Income Down, PPE Spending Up
Although telehealth use has helped physicians maintain patient care, it has not offset the losses incurred from reduced in-person visits during the past 8 months according to data released by the American Medical Association (AMA) on October 28.
In July and August, the AMA conducted a nationwide online survey of 3,500 physicians to better quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices. Issues such as income, use of telemedicine, availability and cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), and usefulness of the various federal financial relief programs available to physicians are summarized here. Key findings:
- 81% of physicians said that their income this summer was still lower than it was in February, before the pandemic began to escalate. The average revenue drop was 32%.
- The use of telehealth expanded significantly with eased coverage restrictions, although this revenue stream did not completely offset the decline in in-office visits.
- Spending on PPE is up, with physician-owned practices having the most difficult time acquiring these supplies.
- Most physicians who applied for federal relief funds were successful and found it helpful.
“Physician practices continue to be under significant financial stress due to reductions in patient volume and revenue, in addition to higher expenses for supplies that are scarce for some physicians” said AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD. “More economic relief is needed now from Congress as some medical practices contemplate the brink of viability, particularly smaller practices that are facing a difficult road to recovery.”
The survey results are summarized in this two-page PDF.