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June 16, 2017
June 30, 2022

The year ahead holds both significant opportunity as well as uncertainty.  With the Affordable Care Act's fate coming into question, healthcare organizations move into the new world of value-based care and other advances.

The United States continues to face a projected physician shortage over the next decade, creating a real hurdle facing suitable patient care, according to new data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

For the 3rd consecutive year, the Life Science division of the global information company, HIS Markit, conducted a study of physician supply and demand on behalf of the AAMC. The study modeled a wide range of health care and policy scenarios, ranging from payment and delivery reform, increased use of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, as well as delays in physician retirements.  The report also includes an expanded section modeling the additional demand for physicians that would be generated by health care utilization equity.  Shortages fall into 4 broad categories according to the report by HIS Markit:

  • Primary Care
  • Medical specialties
  • Surgical specialties
  • Other specialties

The study estimates that by 2030 there will be a shortfall of between 7,000 and 43,000 primary care physicians.  Non-primary care specialties are expected to experience a shortfall of between 33,000 and 62,000 physicians.  The supply of surgical specialists is expected to remain level, while demand increases.  The study also finds that the numbers of new primary care physicians and other medical specialist are not keeping pace with the health care demands of a growing and aging population.

By 2030, the U.S. population of age 65 and older will grow by 55 percent, which makes the projected shortage especially troublesome.

"As patients get older, they need two to three times as many services, mostly in specialty care, which is where the shortages are particularly severe"

-AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D.

Locum tenens, on the supply side, areas such as primary care and urgent care are already adept at taking advantage of the urgent staffing crisis; solving this new issue with both temporary physicians and advanced practitioners.

Locum Tenens Physicians: more adaptable and more likely to welcome their role as a team player.

To help alleviate the physician shortage, the AAMC supports a multi-pronged solution which includes making better use of technology, and supporting innovations in care delivery and team-based care.

The good news is that the locum tenens model already supports and addresses these new and more urgent types of healthcare staffing issues relevant in today's healthcare system.  The most successful use of locum tenens is a more proactive and responsive approach to staffing.  Executives and administrators alike should see the cost saving advantages and strategic value in locum tenens and make an effort to get out in front of the changing healthcare milieu; by having locum tenens already on hand as first responders.

Locum tenens are in an excellent position to battle any combination of healthcare staffing challenges.  Experienced locum tenens physicians are already adaptable and acclimatized to dropping into new dynamics: learning new EMR systems, staff idiosyncrasies, and navigating different hospital politics without excessive anxiety.