Primary Care Physicians' Frustrations Mirror Those of Oncologists

In 2018, primary care physicians (PCPs) faced many of the same challenges as oncologists, according to the 90th Annual Physician Report from Medical Economics.1 Paperwork duties, including tracking quality metrics, ranked as the top practice burden. PCPs also cited obtaining prior authorization, working with electronic health record systems that do not work as well as they should, and recruiting young physicians as top challenges (Figure).

Figure. Findings From the 90th Annual Physician Report From Medical Economics

Figure. Findings From the 90TH Annual Physician Report From Medical Economics Not as well compensated as oncologists, who earned $363,000 on average in 2018,2 PCPs named inadequate payment as another concern. The median pretax income for employed physicians and practice owners in 2018 was $225,000, according to the study results. Gender pay differences were also cited as a concern. Female PCPs reported a median annual income of $175,000 compared with $275,000 reported by men. This translated to a ratio of 63 cents for every $1 in earnings, respectively, in primary care medicine.

The Medical Economics report indicated that physicians work an average of 52 hours per week, which is slightly less than the 55-hour weekly total reported by oncologists surveyed for a 2018 report by Genentech,3 and that the average practicing physician paid $18,700 for malpractice insurance last year. Twelve percent of respondents said these costs were up from 2017 and 47% said they stayed the same.

The annual report from Medical Economics included 1057 responses from a pool of 81,136, for a response rate of 1.6% before exclusions. Almost half (49%) were from suburban practices; 32%, urban communities; and 19%, rural areas or small towns. More than half (55%) were from private practice. Three-fourths were in practice for more than 20 years, and the median age was 59; 65% identified themselves as men; 31%, women.


  1. 90th Annual Physician Report. Medical Economics®. April 25, 2019. physician-report. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  2. Peckham C. Medscape Oncologist Compensation Report 2018. Medscape website. 2018-compensation-oncologist-6009663#1. Published April 18, 2018. Accessed April 25, 2019.
  3. The 2018 Genentech Oncology Trend Report. 10th Ed. South San Francisco, CA: Genetech; 2018. genentech-forum. com/content/dam/gene/managedcare/forum/pdfs/ Oncology-Trends/2018_Genentech_Oncology_Trend_ Report.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2019.
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