New physician shortage tool models physician shortages by area, specialty

According to a new physician shortage measurement tool, general internal medicine patient care full-time equivalents are projected to decline by 12 percent between 2011 and 2030.

The Physicians Foundation and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have released The FutureDocs Forecasting Tool, a new model that estimates the supply of physicians at the sub-state, state and national level.

The model enables users to create a scenario and see the projected shortage or surplus, the physician supply or the use of healthcare services in the form of a map or line chart. Furthermore, the tool enables users to see the big picture or narrow their results to access very specific information by selecting inpatient, outpatient or emergency department and a specific clinical service area.

Some notable findings from the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool include:

•    The number of pediatric surgery patient care full-time equivalents is projected to double from 2011 to 2030 across most areas in the country, contrasting many current concerns about the future of pediatric surgery.
•    Many specialties that previously consisted of a male majority — such as endocrinology, family medicine and allergy/immunology — will become more than 50 percent female by 2030.
•    Population growth and aging will overshadow the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's health insurance coverage expansion with regard to rising healthcare use between 2014 and 2030.

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