How To Keep Your Practice Competitive With Impending Physician Shortage
A recent study from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) states that in the next few years, a major shortage of primary care physicians will sweep across the United States. By 2033, the physician shortage could hit 139,000.
AAMC mentions that there are a number of factors contributing to the shortage.
- The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have short-and long-term consequences on the nation’s physician workforce, including educational pipeline issues due to the interruption of education, cancellation of clinical rotations, and changes in curriculum as well as regulatory issues, such as changes in licensure and reimbursement.
- Primary care physicians (PCPs) typically earn less than specialists. As a result, fewer medical students are pursuing careers in general practice. A PCP typically earns an average of $220,000 a year. Specialist, on the other hand, can earn a median base salary of $356,000, based on a 2017 LinkedIn Salary Data
- Some PCPs have not embraced technology advancements to satisfy the modern patient’s needs and expectations. Some patients have chosen specialists and other types of healthcare providers offering robust telemedicine and virtual visit options
AAMC also predicts that the pandemic will impact future physicians’ interest in going into certain medical fields. For example, interest in some specialties, like infectious diseases, may increase while interest in others, like emergency medicine, may decrease.
With value-based approaches taking over traditional fee-for-service payment models, how can you deliver quality care to patients stay competitive, and grow your practice?
Three ideas to consider:
- Embrace technology – Patients expect convenience. In this technology-driven world, the expectation of immediacy is a reality. Don’t drive your patients away to other physicians, urgent care centers, or emergency rooms because your next available appointment is a month away. Consider modernizing your delivery of care with services such as virtual/ telehealth visits delivered through a patient portal or app to attend to patients when they need you.
- Take a closer look at your current organizational structure – Patients are demanding more convenience. There are now more ways to assist patients and increase revenue. Consider open additional types of service sites such as an urgent care center so your practice can take care of patients in critical times of need instead of losing their business to competing healthcare providers. Expand office locations in underserved areas experiencing population growth. You can also reevaluate office hours. Depending on your appointment patterns – should you extend hours for later in the day or earlier in the morning? Should you offer weekend hours? Tailoring hours by office location will better serve patients while maximizing your staff’s time and resources.
- Explore alternative reimbursement models – More and more reimbursement contracts call for value-based payment arrangements, causing the traditional fee-for-service model to dwindle. You will be held accountable for the cost and quality of care rather than the number of patients you serve. Consider partnering with payers and sign up for a narrow network. Payers want to steer their members to doctors who provide value-based care and practice good medicine. The smaller the network, the more opportunities there are to strengthen relationships with providers.
What does this mean for your practice?
Addressing the shortage will require a multi-pronged approach, including innovation in delivery; greater use of technology; improved, efficient use of all health professionals on the care team; and an increase in federal support for residency training.
Medical practices willing to embrace these needed changes and implement changes rapidly will gain the competitive edge needed to thrive in this ever-changing environment.
If you’re interested in learning how we can help provide additional funding to embrace these changes and position your practice as the industry-leader, Get Started with Aquina today.