According to a recent survey of small to mid-size medical practices, 41 percent of private practices are doing worse than last year, and the costs of running a medical practice and insurance reimbursement issues continue to be major sources of concern for most physicians.

The 2011 State of the Small Practice survey conducted by Practice Fusion, a Web-based electronic health record (EHR) company, aims to highlight the challenges faced by private practices nationwide in an environment of economic downturn, healthcare reform and technology mandates. Responses to 10 questions were collected from a national sample of 100 physicians. The majority of respondents were primary care providers in practices with fewer than six physicians.

Key findings include:

•    41 percent of doctors report that their practice is doing worse this year compared to last year, while 26 percent report doing better and 31 percent report no change.

•    59 percent report that new technology has made things easier for their medical practice.

Doctors were also asked to report their practice's top negative pressures and positive trends in a series of open-ended questions.

•    Issues relating to practice administration (31 percent), insurance and reimbursement (26 percent) and difficult patients (11 percent) are the top negative pressures on the practices.

•    Positive trends are led by advancements in medicine (22 percent), patient quality (19 percent) and improvement in the healthcare workforce (15 percent).

Eighty percent of U.S. physicians practice in groups of nine or less, according to the AMA. Learn more about this survey at

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