The demand for doctors in 2025 will exceed the number of practicing physicians by 46,100 to 90,400, the trade association for medical colleges predicted Tuesday, downgrading its earlier estimates of a medical labor squeeze.
In 2010, the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortfall of 130,600 physicians. The estimates are often used by lobbyists and lawmakers to justify increased federal spending for the training of physicians through Medicare and Medicaid.
The new projections found that primary care physician demand in 2025 will exceed supply by 12,500 to 31,100 physicians, compared to a projected shortfall of 65,800 doctors in the 2010 study. The number of doctors who provide specialty care will fall short by 28,200 to 63,700 physicians. The 2010 study projected a shortfall of 64,800 specialists.
The nation is not currently facing a dire shortage at the moment, according to the report, which assumed that the amount of physicians essentially met the demand on average in 2013 except for primary care and psychiatry.
The new predictions, which were calculated by IHS Inc., considered a range of scenarios that took into account changing health care workforce and national demographic estimates. The estimates were the first comprehensive projections to consider recent changes to care delivery and payment methods. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers have been moving away from volume-based payments and toward models that pay health care professionals a set fee for managing a patient’s care. The survey also took into account an increased reliance on advanced nurses to provide some medical services that previously had been offered by physicians.
Other factors affecting the new estimates were that the U.S. Census Bureau revised downward its 2025 population projections by about 10.2 million people. The bureau now assumes that the U.S. population will be about 347.3 million in 2025. And the number of physicians completing their training has risen from about 27,000 doctors to about 29,000 annually.
Still, said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, Congress and federal agency officials should take the threat of shortages seriously.
“The doctor shortage is real,” said Kirch. “It’s significant – and it’s particularly serious for the kind of medical care that our aging population is going to need.”
The group said that training a doctor takes between five and 10 years, so the nation should take action now in order to avoid a shortage in a decade. The group is calling for continuing to deliver care in ever-more-efficient ways. The AAMC also wants more federal spending to support graduate medical education, with money to train at least 3,000 more doctors a year