A recent article in the Chicago Tribune addressed several options for patients as they seek out accessible and affordable care in a time when the shortage of physicians makes it increasingly difficult to be seen in a timely manner. A recent projection by the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that by 2025 the United States will have a physician shortage of between 12,000 and 31,000 primary care physicians. Because of this, patients, providers and companies alike are looking for new and unique ways to treat a growing and aging population. The article addresses several healthcare options including:
- Telemedicine– it is estimated that in 2015, over 800,000 telemedicine visits will occur between patients and licensed physicians. The convenience of being seen by a physician, via a phone call and/or video, is becoming more and more tempting as “patients increasingly will want to take advantage of advances in mobile technology” and smartphones according to the American Telemedicine Association. Telemedicine is proving that increased utilization can reduce costs and allow patients more convenient access to affordable care while getting proper diagnoses and prescriptions from licensed physicians.
- Retail Clinics– walk-in clinics treated over 20 million patients in 2014 according to the Convenient Care Association. These retail clinics are often connected to pharmacies or large retailers such as Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS and they now number in excess of 1,800 clinics in 40 states. These clinics offer convenience when addressing “acute conditions such as bronchitis and ear infections” at a reduced cost and wait time typically associated with appointments or emergency room visits. Despite a limited list of problems currently being treated by a retail clinic, more states are requiring that private insurers now “cover telemedicine-provided services” indicating that “there may be a lot more physician-patient online chatter in the future.”
The article also addressed Urgent-Care Centers, Nurse-led practices, Team-Based Care and the increased usage of Physician Assistants. The complete article can be found by clicking http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sc-doctor-shortage-health-1111-20151105-story.html.