July 19, 2014
As predicted by the Director of Federal Affairs for Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), around 36 million Americans who are expected to gain insurance coverage in 2014 will have to go through the long wait for seeing a medical provider. Physician shortage in the US is going to affect patients adversely. Due to low reimbursement rates, many dentists and primary care doctors don’t attend Medicaid patients. Many psychiatrists don’t accept insurance at all.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA), around 20% of Americans live in areas with lack of primary care doctors
According to the AAMC, there will be a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians in the US by 2020
What is Causing Physician Shortage?
Aging of the baby boomers is one of the major reasons for the shortage. In the next 10 years, the number of Americans aged 65 and above will increase (so will their medical needs) by about 36% and the burden on existing healthcare force is thus likely to increase too. Similarly, doctors are inching towards retirement too, adding to this problem.
Money is also a major factor in causing the physician shortage in the US. For instance, primary care is one specialty that doesn’t appeal to medical students now because primary care physicians earn around three million US dollars lesser compared to the physicians of other specialties.
Shortage of physicians is a growing concern in the US and it has forced the medical schools, medical societies, hospitals and state legislatures take necessary measures for retaining doctors-in-training and physicians in their respective states.
Physician Retention Methods being Adopted by States:
Many states in the US have opened new medical schools and expanded the existing ones to bring in more students
Incentives such as loan repayment programs, bonuses, scholarships are being offered to physicians to stop them from shutting down their practices
New residency programs are being introduced by communities so that physicians can be motivated to stay in that area and treat patients. This is being done for helping physicians develop a long term personal and professional relationship during their Graduate Medical Education (GME) training
In some states, GME training positions have been increased so that physicians can be trained to practice in their state rather than moving out
If mid-level providers are effectively integrated into the care delivery system, patient access can be bolstered. This will help in buying time to find and hire new physicians. According to HSRA, if physician assistants and nurse practitioners are integrated, the estimated shortage of 20,400 physicians by the year 2020 can be brought down to just 6,400. Alternate models for delivery of healthcare, telemedicine and group visits are also some of the strategies that can be used for reducing physician shortage in hospitals.
Many practices across the US have partnered with billing companies like MedicalBillersandCoders.com to sail through revenue challenges that are forcing physicians to close down their practice. MBC has a team of skilled coders and billers who are well-trained in helping doctors balance their revenue cycle management and patient care.