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Physician Appointment Wait Times Up 30% from 2014

By John Commins  
   March 21, 2017

Medicare/Medicaid Acceptance Rates
The survey found that the average rate of physician Medicare acceptance is 85% in the 15 large metro markets and 81% in the 15 mid-sized markets. The average rate of physician Medicaid acceptance is 53% in the large metro markets and 60% in the mid-sized markets.

Smith said the survey shows that physician supply and accessibility will need to be enhanced as the healthcare system continues to evolve.

"More physicians will need to be trained, access to other types of providers expanded, and emerging technologies employed to ensure that health care delayed does not become health care denied," Smith said.

AAMC Projects Physician Shortfall
The survey findings fall in line with a report issued this month by the Association of American Medical Colleges, which shows a projected shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.

"The nation continues to face a significant physician shortage. As our patient population continues to grow and age, we must begin to train more doctors if we wish to meet the health care needs of all Americans," AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said in remarks accompanying the report.

By 2030, the study estimates a shortfall of between 7,300 and 43,100 primary care physicians. Non-primary care specialties are expected to experience a shortfall of between 33,500 and 61,800 physicians.

"By 2030, the U.S. population of Americans aged 65 and older will grow by 55 percent, which makes the projected shortage especially troubling," Kirch said. "As patients get older, they need two to three times as many services, mostly in specialty care, which is where the shortages are particularly severe."

Gessner says some effort should be made to find attractive career pathways for physicians who aren't now actively practicing medicine.

"Perhaps part-time practice is an option for people who want to restrict their practice while they're raising a family or for other social considerations that we need to discuss, think about and accommodate," he says.

"There are a lot of different reasons for these wait times, but there are also a large number of potential solutions; some off of technology and some off of work/lifestyle changes. We always need to engage more people in the profession."

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.

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