New York – June 11, 2020 – The latest in a series of frontline clinician surveys from Bain & Company shows that although most physicians remain concerned about their health and safety, only 15 percent have considered switching careers, and more than 60 percent feel prouder to be a physician since the onset of the pandemic. Primary care physicians (PCPs) are most likely to consider a career switch, with a quarter of PCPs looking into this option, citing burnout and financial insecurity as key drivers for change.
These are some of the findings of Bain & Company’s fourth COVID-19 Front Line Pulse Check, a special edition of the firm’s sixth annual Front Line of Healthcare report.
Realizing the financial burden of COVID-19
The report, which surveyed nearly 450 frontline healthcare workers, shows growing concerns over providers’ financial preparedness emerging from the COVID-19 crisis. A quarter of frontline clinicians believe their employers are much more financially challenged post-COVID. Prior to COVID-19, 64 percent of providers described their employers as financially secure, and just 4 percent responded that they were financially challenged. Clinicians at financially challenged organizations have an employee loyalty score significantly below that of financially secure groups, indicating that these organizations may also face retention issues.
In line with this concern, nearly 70 percent of providers are expecting compensation cuts in June, up from 40 percent in May, and 95 percent of finance administrators expect to roll out cost-saving initiatives. Top cost-cutting measures will include more stringent medtech purchasing guidelines and increasing cost awareness among physicians.
“While many physicians are feeling prouder than ever of their profession, many are also feeling uneasy about the financial health of their employers coming out of the height of the pandemic,” said Joshua Weisbrod, a partner with Bain & Company and head of the firm’s Americas Healthcare practice. “Providers remain cautious about how quickly elective surgeries will rebound, and they are not convinced they will see a full resumption in the near future.”
Testing and a return to elective procedures
Only 60 percent of physicians report their organizations are equipped with the testing, personal protective equipment and other conditions necessary for elective surgeries to resume fully. Although states have begun to loosen restrictions on elective procedures, surgeons do not expect to return to full procedure volume in the near term. They forecast a return to only about 60 percent of their normal surgery volume in June 2020 and 75 percent by September 2020.
Appetite for M&A and value-based care
Large healthcare organizations are not the only providers feeling financial pressure. According to Bain & Company’s survey, there is rising interest in M&A activity among independent physician practices, with 70 percent of those surveyed indicating they would be amenable to being acquired, ideally by a larger physician practice. Additionally, primary care providers are demonstrating increased levels of interest in value-based care, due to the stability of per member per month (PMPM) reimbursements and efficiency for patient care.
Staying power of telehealth and virtual interactions
The survey shows the continued appeal of telehealth and virtual conferencing platforms in a post-COVID world. Half of the providers surveyed say they are willing to invest financially to increase telehealth use, and most physicians expect to use telehealth as much or more than they currently do going forward. However, only 20 percent of providers see telehealth as a substitute for in-person care.
Physicians also expect to use virtual engagement with sales reps more frequently to replace some in-person interactions. Prior to COVID-19, about 90 percent of physicians preferred some in-person engagement with sales reps. Now, 50 percent of providers surveyed say they are looking for more virtual visits with pharma reps, and 60 percent expect in-person medtech rep access to be restricted in the future, especially for sales visits.
“After our fourth survey of frontline clinicians this year, we’re seeing a definite shift away from the rapid response strategies we saw at the peak of the crisis into planning mode for what comes next,” said Michael Brookshire, a partner with Bain & Company’s healthcare practice and co-author of the report. “Providers are bracing themselves for cost-cutting measures and thinking critically about how technology will play a more permanent role in their daily routines from telehealth to clinical workflows.”
Editor’s Note: To schedule an interview with Mr. Weisbrod or Mr. Brookshire, please contact Katie Ware at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 646-562-8107.
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