Where pop health initiatives will suffer most
The ramifications of this projected lack of physician leadership means that population health strategies that aim to reach out to patients in rural or non-metropolitan areas could suffer.
“If underserved populations had care utilization patterns similar to populations with fewer access barriers, demand for physicians could rise substantially,” the study’s authors said.
Physician need increases even more when healthcare equity is factored into the equation. According to the report, if healthcare were distributed to black and Hispanic populations at the same access as white, insured populations in metropolitan areas, an additional 98,000 physicians would be needed.
Key takeaway for MCOs
”Additional doctors are needed for fairness and equity factors. Managed care organizations need to make sure they are planning the number of physicians that they need in the future based off their patients’ age and ethnicity,” Orlowski says. “If your patient population is more elderly, then you will need more cardiologists and gastrointestinal doctors. So it is important to think about the physician needs for today and the future.”
Orlowski says that all areas of the healthcare system need to work together to increase the numbers of doctors coming into the system. She says AAMC is developing advocacy around lifting the 1997 freeze on medical residencies funded by the federal government. “In 20 years, the United States population has grown, and the number of people living over the age of 65 has grown. It’s well past the time to reevaluate the number of funded residencies based on population projections of today.”