New York needs 942 physicians: 8 findings

The state of New York continues to experience a shortage of physicians, especially primary care physicians in upstate New York, according to a recent hospital survey by the Healthcare Association of New York State. 

The state, not including New York City, needs 942 more physicians, 20 percent of them — the largest share — in primary care, the survey shows. Upstate, providers identified a total need for 615 new physicians, which represents 65 percent of the total need reported.

For the survey, the respondents — 94 hospitals and health systems across New York State, excluding New York City — were asked questions about current staffing, the number of primary care clinics, the need for additional physicians, the impact of healthcare reform transformation in their communities and recruitment strategies.

Here are eight findings from HANYS' 2014 Physician Advocacy Survey, which was developed in collaboration with Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State, Rochester Regional Healthcare Association and Western New York Healthcare Association.

1. All survey respondents identified a need for 942 physicians across the state, excluding New York City.

2. Of that need, nearly 200 are primary care physicians.

3. Seventy-seven percent of respondents indicated that their primary care capacity is not sufficient to meet current needs, and 75 percent are concerned about their ability to meet future needs.

4. Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated that primary care physicians are very difficult to recruit.

5. Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated that they are actively trying to recruit primary care physicians to expand access to primary care.

6. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated that their physicians are leaving their communities largely because of aging/retirement.

7. Respondents across the state, excluding New York City, indicated they provide primary care services at a total of 542 clinics within their systems.

8. Eighty-six percent of respondents indicated they are providing care coordination services in their primary care clinics.

HANYS argues that the state of New York should help hospitals and health systems recruit physicians. Specifically, the group recommends the state each year adequately fund Doctors Across New York, a series of state-funded programs enacted in 2008 to help train and place physicians in a variety of settings and specialties; continue to fund the Primary Care Services Corps program so that other allied health professionals can also receive debt relief for serving in under-served communities; and provide funding through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment process to help providers recruit the needed physicians.

"At a time when healthcare providers are working to keep their communities healthier and out of the emergency room, primary care must be accessible in all corners of New York State," HANYS President Dennis Whalen said in a news release. "From expanding successful programs such as Doctors Across New York to optimizing telehealth services, the state must explore ways to meet the current and future needs for primary care."

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