In today’s times the medical community faces a plethora of challenges and shortage of physicians is one of them. The WHO is estimating a shortage of more than four million physicians and health care workers around the world. So, one can safely say that both, the developed and the developing nations will have to come up with innovative solutions to curb and combat this phenomenon.
The traditional and most viable solution to close the gap has been to increase the number of doctors, but in the current scenario this solution won’t fill the gap because the present and future demand is too heavy. Another reason is, lesser number of medical students choosing primary health care. Therefore, the hospitals should try to design an effective and non-conventional alternative that will address the shortage and work towards implementing them. Some of the solutions are stated below:
1.Elevate the role of nurses and nonclinical licensed practitioners:
Hospitals can reduce the pressure on the physicians to a great extent by empowering the nurses and the physician assistants with additional responsibilities. This group in their new roles can cater to the problems which are non serious and routine-like in nature. Hospitals can have specialty training programs for them to equip them to deliver their new responsibilities flawlessly.
2.Embrace emerging and innovative models:
There are two new emerging models that use a combination of providers other than the traditional physician based care. They are Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and the Nurse Managed Health Center (NMHC) models. Various studies conducted have reiterated the fact that by increasing the usage of these two methods one can address the problems arising from shortage of physicians without increasing the number of physicians.
3.Adopt and use new healthcare technology:
Hospitals should try and embrace the latest developments and innovations from the world of healthcare technology. The newest emerging concept is that of Telemedicine and it promises to alleviate the physician shortage. Few of the benefits of telemedicine are:
- It helps physicians to make use of their unused time to treat more patients
- It connects physicians to patients in rural areas or smaller medical institutions
- It narrows the location barriers and increases the scope of physicians available to treat patients
4. Work towards retention and engagement:
The corporate world focuses and works hard towards engaging and retaining their talent and every hospital must also adopt such strategies. It is best to proactively adopt such methods to keep physicians motivated & engaged which in turn will lower the attrition rate and thereby build a positive culture that will reflect in the service rendered to the patients. In an environment where there is already shortage of physicians it is important to try and retain the talent one already has.
5.Educate and encourage patients on self care:
Hospitals can encourage patients to care for themselves for routine and non serious medical treatments. This will to some extent lower the demand for physicians. Patients can themselves administer tests for diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. To take the self care concept to a next level, a support group of patients having same conditions can be formed too so that they can help and assist one another.
To conclude it can be said that the problem of chronic shortage of physicians that the hospitals face will only increase in the times to come; however, one needs to remain optimistic and find creative solutions to the problem. There are many healthcare challenges which have to concern. Experts are positive that the various strategies mentioned above will successfully address the issue of shortage of physicians to a great extent.