How to Stop the Growing Doctor Shortage
The United States is facing a grave shortage of physicians. Critical health care jobs are going unfilled at hospitals and health care organizations across the country in the face of a growing population of elderly Americans, looming pandemics and other challenges to our national health care system. If we don’t find new ways to solve this problem, people will die needlessly. Thankfully, innovative health care leaders are developing new strategies and inventing new technology to improve efficiency, help practitioners do more with less, and create exciting new careers in the medical field. To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by University Of Central Florida’s Online Master of Healthcare Systems Engineering degree program.
By the year 2025 there will be a projected short fall of over 60,000 primary care physicians for the United States health care system. Health care organizations and hospitals are already struggling to keep up with demand for medical services.
In the near term, hospital administrators and other health care professionals will need to embrace new systems and advanced technology in an effort to streamline services and deliver more affordable and reliable health care to a growing population.
The Number of Insured Patients is Growing
As recently as 2015, the number of individuals who held an insurance plan through their employer was north of 177 million. That’s 177 million U.S. adults that have supported access to the health care system, nearly half the population of the United States.
Nearly 11 million more people registered for state or federal market place plans under Obamacare. A more alarming statistic is the 28.5 million uninsured non-elderly Americans (which dropped by 13 million since 2013). Those individuals represent a huge swath of patients that require medical care, use medical care, but have no way to pay for it other than their own income.
All of that adds up to significant amount of people (many supported but some not) that require doctors to attend to them. With a shortage already looming, spiking demand is resulting in longer wait times, lower quality of care, and dissatisfied patients.
Because of increased demand for medical services, it is estimated that an additional 17,000 more doctors and physicians will be needed to fill the gap in demand. By the year 2025, there will be a projected 61K — 94k shortage of physicians. In fact, about one third of U.S. states are already suffering from a physician shortage.
Some estimates put the number of doctors per 1,000 people at about 2.56. Roughly 3 doctors for every 1,000 people requiring medical care are numbers that aren’t sustainable.
New Systems, Advanced Technology
Hospitals and health care administrators need to act fast to adopt new systems and leverage budding technology to combat the shortage in the near term. For example leveraging team-based care has been shown to have a positive impact on patient satisfaction rates.
Team-based care involves physicians, medical assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical specialists all working together as a team on patients.
Telemedicine as an Alternative
New technologies in communication can be leveraged to provide more efficient delivery of care. For instance telemedicine is growing in popularity among doctors, administrators, and patients.
Of the administrators sourced, 84% mentioned that telemedicine services will be a key component in the overall success in their hospitals or organizations. In fact by 2018, it’s estimated that over 7 million patients will be actively using telemedicine services.
More Awareness of Self-care
As technology for monitoring health becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, patients are encouraged to be more conscious of their health. Fitness tracking technology for example is embedded in wearable technologies like watches and rings. Smart phones have also played a key role in helping patients monitor and influence their own health outcomes before they become an issue for the health care system.