According to the March 2015 IHS report titled, The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections From 2013 to 2025, the “demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply, leading to a projected shortfall of between 46,100 and 90,400 physicians by 2025.” The problem is especially affecting the supply of primary care physicians as well as surgeons who treat diseases that are common to the aging population.
While implementation of the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of insured people, thereby increasing the demand for doctors, it seems the supply will not grow as quickly as the demand, and we are already starting to see this issue take root.
There seem to be several things coming into play that are causing this shortage. First and foremost is the large population of baby boomers who are aging. Boomers started turning 65 in 2010 and the US Census Bureau has estimated that the population of people over age 62 will nearly double from 46 million to about 83 million by the year 2030.
In addition, due to medical advancements, people are living longer with chronic diseases like cancer nowadays.
A lack of primary care physicians is making the physician shortage worse. Young people entering the medical field are choosing specialties like radiology and anesthesiology instead of primary care because they can enjoy better hours and a higher income. Typically primary care physicians are the gatekeepers of the healthcare industry, serving to diagnose and coordinate care. With less people filling that role, the healthcare system is at risk of becoming even less efficient and more fragmented and expensive than it already is.
Organizations and the government are beginning to take some actions to help rectify this issue. For example, the Association of American Medical Colleges has called on Congress to increase the medical resident federal cap that is imposed on hospitals, but this would incur huge costs for the government.
Since there tends to be a plethora of doctors in affluent cities and a shortage in rural and poor areas, the government runs programs that encourage doctors to practice in shortage areas by helping them pay off medical school debt.
Unfortunately, there are also non-beneficial changes taking place to solve the shortage issue, and it will only get worse as the shortage grows. For example, patients are experiencing shorter office visits, increased wait times for getting appointments, and decreased access to care. Many people are taking their healthcare concerns to alternative medicine practitioners who are more readily available.
CarpeVITA is taking the lead in establishing new systems, technologies and healthcare models that will solve the physician shortage and create better care at a more affordable price.
In order for our healthcare system to survive, transformation must take place. Care systems must be more efficient, technology must be used to integrate care points and reduce redundancies and errors. Collaboration between healthcare providers and a team-based approach must be put in place. The focus must be on wellness and prevention so that less sick care is needed. A new gatekeeper system must be put in place so that primary care physicians are not the only ones coordinating care. Find out how CarpeVITA is accomplishing all of that here.