The trends physicians are worried about for 2024

Three physicians recently joined Becker's to discuss the healthcare trends they are most worried about as the new year approaches. 

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Swaranjit Bhasin, MD. Diagnostic Radiology Specialist in Modesto, Calif.: Calling obesity a genetic disease is a worrisome narrative that I see being advertised. Obesity is a hormonal, not a caloric imbalance. Healthcare needs to again provide clear cut solutions to reverse obesity in the U.S. given 73% of adults and 35% of kids are overweight/obese.

Vineet Sharma, MD. Emergency Medicine Physician in Los Angeles: I am most worried about burnout and physicians, particularly those in the front lines such as primary care and emergency medicine, leaving medicine due to administrative burdens and unsafe environments and expectations. This is the most important thing that needs to be addressed in 2024 with rising medical school debt, the rising cost of becoming a physician and the rising unhappiness of providers. The shortage of front-line providers can drastically impact the U.S. as our population is aging. If we don't find proper means of compensating providers and make their jobs more enjoyable, we will be in a health crisis. 

Sri Sundaram, MD. Electrophysiologist at South Denver (Colo.) Cardiology Associates: "Medicare physician payment has effectively declined 26% since 2001 — and that is before inflation and the finalized pay cut for 2024 are factored in, according to the American Medical Association."

This is the lead sentence in an article that was sent to me today by Becker's. This is the healthcare trend that I am most worried about in 2024. Physicians continue to get the short end of the stick in the American healthcare system. Hospitals are getting increased reimbursement and insurance companies are making record profits for their services while physicians continue to get less. No wonder the number of primary physicians is shrinking and there is a shortage of physicians nationwide. The best and brightest will no longer want to go into medicine with the declines in payment. In addition, medical practice expenses are increasing. As long as we continue this system, there will be less physicians at a time when the U.S. population is growing and getting older.

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