Multi-pronged Approach Is Needed to Bridge the Gap Between Physician Supply and Patient Demand

by | Apr 4, 2016 | Thought Leadership

A recent survey of 5,024 physicians in 50 states found that 59 percent of doctors expect to maintain their practice, up from 53 percent last year. And that’s some much-needed good news, since doctors are in high demand: the number of patients is growing much faster than doctors can be trained.

A study by the economic modeling and forecasting firm IHS Inc, forecasted that by 2025, demand for physicians will exceed supply by a range of 46,000 to 90,000; with a shortfall of between 28,000 and 63,700 of non-primary care physicians (surgeons and specialists).

This shortage needs to be addressed to ensure that patients receive the care they need and that the field of medicine continues to advance. Here are some ways to help build our industry:

  1. Attract and inspire bright, talented young people to the healthcare profession. There is some pessimism around the ways that healthcare is changing, but we need to continue to champion the message that there is no better privilege than helping someone in a moment of need. The younger generation brings a lot of technology savviness, which makes them uniquely qualified to tackle challenging health issues. If we keep attracting bright, creative young minds, new devices and technology will be developed and new medical solutions will be found.
  2. Embrace innovation. Innovation allows healthcare practitioners to offer cheaper, faster and more efficient care than ever before. Take 3D printing as an example. From 3D print software that creates pills for patients based on their medical and biological data, to organs, stems cells, bone and cartilage, and more, this technology has revolutionized healthcare. And we see similar advancements right here the Fogarty Institute. Let’s continue to think outside the box and find new solutions to difficult health problems.
  3. Forge partnerships. There is strength in numbers, and if we want to move the needle on strengthening the physician base, the entire medical ecosystem needs to work together — from physicians, to government officials, to health tech companies, to VCs to donors. At the Fogarty Institute, we recently forged a partnership with the FDA to accelerate medical device innovation, and another partnership with Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson to support medtech startups. We need more of these types of partnerships. Medical innovation will continue to blaze new trails when we all work together and learn from each other for the greater good.
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