How are States Retaining Physicians in Times of Shortage?

Physician shortages is a growing concern and is pushing various states to keep doctors trained in medical schools and residency programs from crossing state lines to practice medicine. According to new statistics from the Assn. of American Medical Colleges- nationwide, there were 258.7 active physicians per 100,000 people and in individual states, ratios range from a high of 415.5 physicians per 100,000 people in Massachusetts to a low of 176.4 per 100,000 in Mississippi.

In this scenario medical school, hospitals, medical societies and state legislatures are increasingly taking a practical approach to retain the physicians and doctors-in-training in their state. According to a report by AAMC Center for Workforce Studies on average:

39% of U.S. physicians practice  State where they went to medical school
48% of U.S. physicians practice  State where they completed graduate medical education

Methods adopted by states to retain physicians

AAMC projections depict that physician shortages nationwide are projected to reach 62,900 doctors by 2015 and 91,500 by 2020 and several states to retain physicians have:

  • Opened new medical schools or expanded existing ones
  • Are offering incentives such as bonuses, scholarships or loan repayment programs to physicians
  • Communities are developing new residency programs with the aim that physicians will develop long-term professional and personal relationships during GME training and keep them from moving out
  • Certain schools’ mission is to train physicians from their states to practice in their states. However states need enough GME training positions else this efforts are wasted as then physicians will shift to another state

Iowa is below national average retaining 22% of its medical school graduates and 37% of physicians who complete GME training in the state and several efforts in Iowa have been designed to attract physicians to stay in the state. Several other states including Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama offer loan repayment programs for doctors to practice locally.

In Oklahoma, the state offers scholarships and loans to medical students and residents who agree to practice in rural Oklahoma for a set amount of time. Hence Oklahoma is above national averages, retaining 48% of its medical school graduates and 52% of physicians who complete residency training.

Physician adapting to this shortage

Higher revenues and incentives would attract more physicians to the profession and also keep doctors from moving out from states. Healthcare reforms are striving to improve quality of care and physician incentives, to entice more doctors to stay in the profession; but this leaves doctors with little time to balance both patient care and Revenue Cycle Management. As physicians move towards a value based system of healthcare delivery, they would be well-off by partnering with experienced Medical Billing Companies which can offer a balanced approach for both operational as well as revenue maximization. experienced in offering cost-optimizing and revenue-maximizing Medical Billing Revenue Cycle Management in tandem with their goal to assist healthcare should be able to play an essential role in making physicians’ transition towards a value based model easier and profitable, hence also helping towards eliminating physician shortage in the long term.