The 2017 AHA Environmental Scan: Physicians

  • The number of hospital-employed physicians grew to 249,000 in 2014. When combined with contracting arrangements, that number reaches approximately 540,000 physicians today.1
  • Projections of future supply and demand for physicians suggests a shortfall of 46,100 to 90,400 physicians, including a shortfall of 12,500 to 31,100 primary care physicians and a shortfall of 28,000 to 63,700 non-primary care physicians by 2025. In percentage terms, the shortfall is the greatest among surgical specialties (excluding obstetrics and gynecology), reflecting little projected growth in the supply of surgeons and limitations on the ability to augment staffing with other types of clinicians.2
  • Each year, U.S. physician practices in four common specialties spend, on average, 785 hours per physician dealing with the reporting of quality measures. Practices reported that their physicians and staff spent 15.1 hours per physician per week dealing with external quality measures. The time spent by physicians and staff translates to an average cost of $40,069 per physician per year, or a combined total of $15.4 billion annually for general internists, family physicians, cardiologists and orthopedists.3
  • Physicians have limited awareness of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Performance measurement for MACRA payment models begins in 2017, and fee-for-service payments will be frozen beginning in 2019. Although hospitals have been subject to the performance-based payment provisions of the ACA, the concept is new to physicians who will need to understand how to improve performance and avoid payment penalties. This will entail developing more complex governance models, adjusting to more data sharing across the care continuum and more performance measurement.4
  • Physician leadership development training programs are growing throughout the U.S. health care system. While 47 percent of respondents said their organizations conduct some kind of physician leadership development program, another 16 percent said they are aware of plans to create one.5

2017 AHA Environmental Scan

Download the complete 2017 AHA Environmental Scan PDF sponsored by B. E. Smith.


  1. AHA Hospital Statistics 2016 edition, Health Forum, 2016
  2. “The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2013 to 2025,” prepared for the AAMC, submitted by IHS Inc., March 2015
  3. “U.S. Physician Practices Spend More Than $15.4 Billion Annually to Report Quality Measures,” Lawrence P. Casalino, David Gans, Rachel Weber, et al., Health Affairs, March 2016 35(3): 401-406
  4. “How MACRA is Hastening the Demise of Fee-For-Service,” by Jonathan H. Burroughs, FierceHealthcare, Feb. 18, 2016
  5. “Survey Finds Physician Leadership Development Moving into High Gear,” Lou Ricca, American Association for Physician Leadership, Sept. 3, 2015