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Health care law and the physician schedule maker software

Posted on 4/16/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
The New York Times reports that the new health care law intends to extend health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of previously uninsured people in the U.S. This increase in demand for physician care and attention comes at a time when the typical physician schedule is already overextended, making it even more challenging for the physician schedule maker. The extension of health care coverage to so many new subscribers will only strengthen the current shortage of physicians making physician scheduling software more critical today than it has ever been in the past.

Health Care Coverage Extended

According to the New York Times, it’s not just the big cities where the extension of health care coverage is making the physician shortage more obvious. The Mississippi Delta, the suburbs of Phoenix, and other areas across the country are now struggling to meet the demand for physician assistance and medical care with dwindling physicians to carry the load. This makes emergency medicine scheduling a genuine burden for busy practices.

Current estimates by the Association of American Medical Colleges are that by 2015, the United States will have a shortage of nearly 63,000 physicians. Those numbers are expected to double by 2025 as the needs of aging Baby Boomers meets the increased demands the ACA delivers.

Retiring Physicians

Another contributor to the physician schedule problem is the large number of physicians retiring within the next 10 years. Becker’s Hospital Review warns that by 2019, the number of physicians “reaching retirement age” will increase by more than double those numbers in 2009. This will leave their patients looking for new physicians to handle their medical care needs.

Wait Time Facts

A new survey, conducted to Merritt Hawkins, indicates that wait times for physician visits are on the rise. In fact, scheduling appointments with family doctors, dermatologists, and obstetricians may now take weeks.

Other facts about wait times, per the Merritt survey, include that the average wait in Boston, is 72 days to see a dermatologist, 66 days for a family care physician, and more than 45 days to schedule an appointment as a new patient with a doctor.

Boston, however, isn’t the only city with increased weight times. Denver residents should expect to wait 28 days to see a cardiologist. Philadelphia residents can expect a 49 day wait for a dermatologist and family physician visits in New York City may take 26 days advanced scheduling.

For physicians, this leaves little room for emergency medicine scheduling when shift scheduling is already so tight. Shift scheduling software, however, can help ensure that patients and their needs do not fall through the cracks.

Are We Facing a Physician Wait Time Crisis?

A recent report in Forbes, indicates that the new average wait time for scheduling appointments in most major U.S. cities is 18 days. Some areas have much higher wait times as do some, underserved specialty practices in urban areas.

The Forbes article does note that some good is coming of this as hectic physician schedule needs are encouraging the transition to include a more rounded health care experience with physicians relying more heavily upon nurse practitioners and physician assistants in their shift scheduling efforts to ensure patients are getting the quality of care they need.

What's the Takeaway?

With unprecedented growth anticipated throughout the medical industry in coming years, it’s wise to get your physician schedule planning needs in hand sooner rather than later. The right physician scheduling software can make all the difference in the world.

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