Why Hospitals are Facing Shortage of Oncologists?

Growing Demand for Oncologists

Technological advancements in medicine have resulted in age longevity of America’s already growing population. This has allowed an increase in the record number of cancer cases diagnosed every year along with number of survivors and deaths resulting from it. Such an overall increase in the number of cancer cases has also increased demand for oncologists, screening facilities, active treatments, and surveillance.

Reports speak of a decline in the rate of deaths from cancer and an increase in the number of cancer survivors. Survivors from the treatment will need long term care monitoring, as there is a constant need to detect and treat any recurrences that tend to surface. The total population of cancer survivors is mostly older or aging Americans, who are in dire need of comprehensive and coordinated management of any one or more additional disorders co-occurring with cancer.

Increased Access to Cancer Care

The government has been making constant efforts to expand health insurance coverage by means of devices like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. ACA provides useful provisions for patients with cancer. These provisions include coverage of cancer screening, preventive care, and clinical trials and also safeguard a patient against lifetime spending caps, annual limits, and differential rates because of preexisting conditions. This has resulted in improved insurance coverage and in turn more chances of a patient accessing cancer care services. There are millions of American who did not previously have health insurance cover and would now be seeking care for cancer. This further adds to the growing demand for Oncologists.

No one can deny the link between insurance coverage and improved health outcomes. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) vouchers for improved access to cancer care (oncology) services under the Medicaid program. The program diminishes the major gaps in coverage and removes barriers to features of quality care for enrollees, like coverage of routine care costs for participants in clinical trials.

Diminishing No. of Practicing Oncologists

Aging workforce of Oncologists in the field is a major reason behind the shortage that hospitals today are facing. The old cancer specialists are likely to sign up for retirement shortly, worsening the shortage projected.

New Oncology graduates are likely to be outnumbered by the demand for practicing doctors in the field of cancer care. The government needs to invest more money toward the training of new oncologists.

The Way Forward

Oncology is a demanding stream of medicine, which requires 24/7 hours of duty. Being a life-threatening illnesses, it is difficult for most physicians to attain a work-life balance. A number of challenges faced by medical oncologists make it very difficult for small or even medium-sized oncology practices to thrive. However, the projected increase in demand of cancer care specialists also speaks of the profiteering nature of the field. Given the work pressures of cancer care, accurate oncology medical billing is necessary for a successful and flourishing practice.

Projects like ‘Survivor Care Plans’ take note of the long-term side effects of cancer treatment and projected health risks in the future. Oncology specialists need to depend on primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and assistants to take care of treatment basics and follow up care, while they tackle intricate cases. With so much to do, it might be difficult for a cancer specialist to take care of finances at the clinic. In such cases, practitioners can always be outsourcing billing in oncology to professional Oncology medical billing companies.