This post is taken from an article by Robin L. Rose, MBA VP, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream, where she looks ahead at the coming year, with an eye to big picture trends that could have a significant impact on how we provide and experience care.
There Is Also a Physician Shortage
Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor of Healthcare Finance, sums up the issue of the physician shortage as follows, “The looming physician shortage represents a dire situation for the state of healthcare in the U.S., as many experts predict that demand for health services will soon exceed the industry’s capacity to provide care. The underlying reasons are a complex stew of aging baby boomers, physician burnout, and the widespread closure of rural hospitals, not to mention the declining number of medical residency slots available to new graduates” (Lagasse, 2018).
A new study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (released in 2018) showed statistics that were more ominous than those predicted a year earlier (Gooch, 2018):
Unlike what we have seen with the nursing shortage, the dearth of physicians appears to be more widespread throughout the U.S., with only a handful of states predicted to have a surplus in coming years (DHHS, 2016).
Projected differences between each state’s 2025 supply and its 2025 demand range from a shortage of 3,060 FTE primary care physicians in Florida to a surplus of 890 FTE physicians in Massachusetts. Thirty-seven states are projected to have a shortage of primary care physicians in 2025, with 12 of these states having a deficit of 1,000 or more FTEs (DHHS, 2016).
One recent outcome of the physician shortage is state-to-state competition to entice physicians to stay put after they have finished their training. Medical schools, hospitals, and state legislators are forgiving student loan debt, establishing mentorships, and doing whatever it takes to keep physicians newly finished with their residency in their states. On the high end, California—a state with many open positions—keeps about 70% of residents and fellows trained in-state. Smaller states like New Hampshire, where jobs are more difficult to find, retain 28% of doctors after training (The DO Staff, 2018).
Additional Healthcare Trends to Watch
Other trends identified in this article include:
DHHS, “State-Level Projections of Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners: 2013-2025,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Health Resources and Services Administration, National Center for Health Workforce Analysis. 2016, https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/health-workforce-analysis/research/projections/primary-care-state-projections2013-2025.pdf
DO Staff, “Physician shortages have states offering perks to new doctors. Is it working?” American Osteopathic Association, Jan. 16, 2018, https://thedo.osteopathic.org/2018/01/physician-shortages-states-offering-perks-new-doctors-working/
Gooch, Kelly, “Why America’s physician shortage could top 120k by 2030: 5 things to know,” Becker’s Hospital Review, April 11, 2018, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/why-america-s-physician-shortage-could-top-120k-by-2030-5-things-to-know.html
Lagasse, Jeff, ‘Physician shortages mean doctors have to learn to use new technologies,” Healthcare Finance, June 21, 2018, https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/physician-shortages-mean-doctors-have-learn-use-new-technologies
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