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2023 ASTRO Member Survey Results

Reimbursement is a top concern for U.S. Radiation Oncologists; lack of access to RT tops the list for international radiation oncologists

The Annual ASTRO Member Survey is an important tool used to assess member satisfaction, identify concerns and help direct the actions of the Society. The Member Survey was fielded for eight weeks, from April 18 through June 16, and was emailed to 8,595 members. More than 1,000 members participated in the survey. As a special incentive for participating in the survey, 10 lucky individuals were randomly selected to receive a $50 gift card! Read on for the results of the survey including responses to new questions added in 2023.

Survey Respondents – Profession

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents were ROs, distantly followed by medical physicists. We are pleased to see increased participation from early career members (19%, up from 17% in 2022) and resident members (10%, up from 8% in 2022).

Survey Respondents – Diversity

ASTRO is dedicated to diversity and expanding health equity and inclusion. The Council on Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, formed in 2022 and chaired by Iris Gibbs, MD, FASTRO, has multiple active committees supporting ASTRO’s strategic goal of fostering a diverse workforce and improving access to equitable care. In 2022 and 2023, ASTRO actively solicited members to update their profile on ASTRO.org to help us better understand our member demographics.

Gender participation remained about the same as 2022 with 70% male and 30% female participation. Six members identified as non-binary and 48 chose “Prefer not to specify.” These percentages are fairly representative of ASTRO membership (65% male, 30% female and 5% unknown).

White or Caucasian is the predominant reported race followed by Asian. Nine out of 10 respondents indicated that they are not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

Membership and Satisfaction

Both U.S. and International members cited “Access to ASTRO Journals (Red Journal and PRO) as the top reason for being a member of ASTRO, followed by “Premier society for radiation oncology” and “Professional development” for U.S. respondents and “Professional development” and “Quality and Safety recommendations, e.g., guidelines, white papers, etc.” for international respondents.

Member satisfaction is an important measure to the ASTRO Board of Directors and staff. We are pleased that overall satisfaction with ASTRO membership increased slightly in 2023 (76%, up from 74% in 2022) and look forward to continuing the upward trend in 2024. International members have the highest level of satisfaction with their ASTRO membership. Satisfaction among U.S. ROs remained steady and increased significantly for medical physicists.

Satisfaction among U.S. residents has increased significantly over the past three years. This may be due in part to the active work of ARRO. Satisfaction among Early Career members (defined as eight years or less out of residency) is a work in progress. The Early Career Committee conducted focus groups with early career physicians at the end of 2023 to understand how ASTRO can better support their needs and cultivate fuller engagement.

Preferences in Education Formats

The majority of respondents who have participated in ASTRO education/professional development offerings indicated satisfaction with the offerings. When asked which education format(s) they were most likely to consume, live in-person meetings was the top choice. However, there is increasing interest in onDemand courses.

Perceived Importance of ASTRO Functions

ROs were asked to select the top five functions performed by ASTRO that are important to them.
U.S. respondents cited:

  1. Publish scientific and practice journals (Red Journal, PRO and Advances)
  2. Advocate on behalf of members for appropriate reimbursement and coverage (e.g., insurers, CMS)
  3. Educate and lobby Congress and policymakers about radiation oncology
  4. Host the Annual Meeting
  5. Support the delivery of safe and effective patient care (e.g., publish clinical guidelines and consensus documents)

International respondents cited:

  1. Publish scientific and practices journals (Red Journal, PRO and Advances)
  2. Support the delivery of safe and effective patient care (e.g., publish clinical practice guidelines and white papers)
  3. Host the Annual Meeting
  4. Provide education and professional development opportunities for physicians and other members of the treatment team
  5. Offer online education through the ASTRO Academy

Day-to-day Challenges

Day-to-day challenges faced by ROs are different than those faced by residents. “Practice issues” ranked as the top challenge ROs will face over the next three years, while “Personal issues” ranked highest for residents.

Diving a bit deeper into the responses about day-to-day challenges, we looked at the challenges faced by Private Practice/Community-based ROs. Payor, practice and government issues have remained as the top three challenges with very little changes over the past three years.

Production

New survey questions queried ROs about the number of days per week worked in the clinic and the approximate number of wRVUs produced in 2022.

Overall, ROs at private practice/community-based systems spend more days in the clinic than their academic/university-based counterparts. This held true for both U.S. and International survey respondents.

ROs working at U.S. private practice/community-based systems reported producing a higher number of wRVUs than those working at academic/university-based systems.

Payer Mix

Medicare (original) makes up the greatest proportion of payers in both the academic/university (36%) and private practice/community settings (35%). Despite enrollment growth, Medicare Advantage (MA) remains a significantly smaller portion of the radiation oncology payer mix, with MA plans covering 12% of cases in academic/university-based settings and 17% practice/community-based settings. Non-Medicare Private Payer coverage applies to 32% of cases in academic/university settings and 24% in private practice/community settings.

Future of the Field

When asked to consider the future of the field, ROs cited that they were most excited about the following:

Conversely, ROs were asked to list their greatest concerns about the future of the field.

The Annual Member Survey provides valuable information for ASTRO’s continued service to our more than 10,000 members. Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2023 survey. The survey is sent out every spring, so please help us by completing the 2024 survey. And, maybe you could be one of the lucky winners of the gift cards.