Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Explaining the Doctor Shortage

Consider this an addendum to yesterday’s post about the coming-- or should I say, arrived-- doctor shortage. Investor’s Business Daily reports some findings, compiled by the Mayo Clinic.

How bad is the doctor shortage?

An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.
Another survey found that nearly two-thirds of doctors feel burned out, depressed or both.

This is already having a significant effect on patient access to doctors. A Merritt Hawkins survey of doctors in 15 metro areas found that "average new-patient physician appointment wait times have increased significantly. The average wait time for a physician appointment for the 15 large metro markets surveyed is 24.1 days, up 30% from 2014. "

Getting a new-patient appointment with a family physician, for example, went from an average 19 days in 2014 to almost 30 days in 2017. To get an appointment for a heart checkup with a cardiologist, wait times climbed from seven days in 2009 to 21 days in 2017. For a well-woman exam with an OB/GYN, they went from 17 days to 26 over those years.

We all have mandated health insurance. And yet, we have less access to physicians.

Many physicians are being driven out of the profession by onerous record-keeping requirements. These requirements-- to keep electronic health records-- were imposed by Obamacare. They were supposed to render medical practice more efficient. They made medical practice more difficult. Score one for the behavioral economists who concocted this nightmare:

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration's "electronic health records" mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.

It's had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.

A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs "a complete overhaul," and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.

ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.

The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.

Why are you not surprised? Put the government in charge and you get fewer physicians, less medical care, and an explosion of healthcare administrators.

1 comment:

art.the.nerd said...

Dr. Schneiderman, thank you for these posts. I have experienced the same increases in wait times for an appointment. I attributed to moving to a different location the last three years, and to changing health providers. I am dismayed to learn this is a widespread problem, as the medical industry starts to look like the Dept of Motor Vehicles. Please keep posting about this.