Monthly Archives: April 2016

New Report Predicts a National Physician Shortage

On April 5th 2016, IHS Inc. released a 2016 update to their report on behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges about the projected supply and demand for physicians in American from 2014 – 2015.1

 

The updated report comes in at around 40 pages, and contains projections for many different scenarios that have an effect on demand for physicians services such as demographic changes like the aging of the baby boomer generation, or the ability of non-physician healthcare providers like ARNPs to provide services presently offered by physicians. The report also discusses the supply of physician services, which is impacted by the number of physicians retiring in the next decade and the number of physicians graduating from medical school who are expected to enter the workforce. The report is very detailed, and it is worth a read to anyone who faces the difficult task of recruiting physicians over the coming decades.

Empty Waiting Room

The key findings of the report are:

 

1. Even under the “brightest” of assumptions, there will be a physician shortfall in 2025, it’s just a matter of how large that shortfall is. The report projects there will be between 61K-94K fewer physicians than needed by 2025. For comparison, the US had about 1 million physicians in 2012.2

 

2. There will be a shortfall in both primary care physicians and non-primary care physicians by 2025.

 

3. The largest impact on supply will be the retirement of currently practicing physicians. Just as the aging of the baby boomers will have a drastic effect of the age diagram of the American population over the coming decade, many physicians are members of the baby boom generation, so we will see a similar demographic trends. Today 11% of the physician workforce is age 65-75. That fraction will increase to one-third by 2025. The exact percentage that will retire as they age is unknown, but the aggregate effect will push down the total supply of physicians.

 

4. The aging of the American population will be the primary cause of increased demand for physician services. The population under 18 is expected to grow by 5% and the population over 65 will grow by 41% – a factor of 8X.

 

5. The expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will push up demand for physicians. Depending on how many states expand medicaid, the ACA could contribute to the shortfall by 10,000 to 17,000 physicians.

What does this all mean for physician jobs around the country?

 

It’s good news for physicians. The shortfall should push up wages for physicians as employers compete to hire the best talent. This is also good news for non-physician providers who may be able to perform services once restricted to physicians as states change their regulations in order to help address this shortfall. Medical schools are also likely to see an increase in enrollment, so new programs around the country are essential. New MD and DO programs like the CUNY Medical School in New York and the University of Nevada’s Las Vegas School of Medicine are popping up all around the country. One thing this report makes clear is that churning out qualified practitioners should be a major priority for the healthcare industry.

 

All signs indicate that physician recruiters will have an increasingly challenging task ahead in the coming decade. While the exact magnitude of the shortfall is unknown, its impending presence is rather certain according to this report. Employers will need to continue to innovate and improve their recruiting practices to stay competitive with the hospital down the road. Tools like FindHealthcareCareers.com can be a big asset for recruiters within this competitive demographic.

Team-Centered Wound Care Provides Improved Outcomes, Patient Comfort and Job Satisfaction

This post was written by guest blogger, Ryan Dirks, PA. Ryan is a Physician Assistant and founder of Ryan DirksUnited Wound Healing located in Puyallup, Washington. Ryan’s team of Nurse Practitioners, specializing in wound care, partner with skilled nursing and rehab centers throughout Washington to provide “Team-Centered Wound Care.” Through weekly wound rounds, these Nurse Practitioners lead multi-disciplinary teams of skilled nursing home caregivers resulting in extraordinary clinical outcomes, education, prevention and great job satisfaction. United Wound Healing is seeking ARNPs skilled in leadership and a desire to transform their patients’ care through a team approach.

 

Have you become discouraged about your role as a health care provider? Have changes in documentation, Meaningful Use, and quality measures left you feeling dissatisfied and disconnected from what you find meaningful in your career? Well, you are not alone. In fact, the solution you may need may also be the best thing for your patients and our healthcare system.

“The strength of the team is each individual member and the strength of each member is the team.” –Phil Jackson former coaching legend of the Chicago Bulls

 

Perhaps the solution we all need is not found in regulations and quality measures. A transformation of health care that includes strengthening and building teams may prove not only to improve your career satisfaction, but improve patient outcomes, quality measures, and cost savings.

I founded United Wound Healing after years of working in medicine only to find that the team environment I wanted to practice in was not truly a team, it was just as broken as our national health care system. We created “Team-Centered Wound Care”™ in response to a dire need in local skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. Patients with chronic wounds were being transported weekly to remote wound care centers creating uncomfortable and expensive traveling, often to receive basic wound care services that could have easily been performed where the patients were residing. The communication between the patients’ caregivers and wound care providers was less than adequate. Team work was non-existent.

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Research has validated the value of team-centered wound care. In 2012, a review of retrospective cohort data was conducted to compare Medicare expenditures between two groups of skilled nursing facility residents with a diagnosis of pressure, venous, ischemic, or diabetic ulcers whose wounds healed during the 10-month study period. A rough population prevalence rate for chronic non-healing wounds in the United States is 2% of the general population and caring for these wounds exceeds $50 billion per year.

The study group included 372 residents who were managed using a structured, comprehensive wound management protocol provided by an externally-led wound management team. The matched comparison group consisted of 311 skilled nursing facility residents who did not receive care from the wound management team. The study group residents experienced lower rates of wound-related hospitalization per day and shorter wound episodes than comparison group patients. Total Medicare costs were $21,449.64 for the study group and $40,678.83 for the comparison group.

This study supports the cost savings and quality outcomes patients and our health care system need. However, instead of resulting from rules, regulations, and EMR’s, the outcomes are a result of teamwork, synergy, and collaboration. I would venture to say these virtues are also the very characteristics we all crave as health care providers and what is lacking in our own job satisfaction.

References

Caroline E. Fife, MD, CWS; Marissa J. Carter, PhD, MA; David Walker, CHT; Brett Thomson, BS

Wounds, Volume 24 – Issue 1 – January 2012