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Journal of ASPR - Fall 2013
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Healthcare reform: It’s a workforce thing

VISTA Staffing SolutionsDespite the politics and the posturing about who will receive what benefits and how said benefits will be paid for, the most important question to ask about healthcare reform is who will deliver the care and how it will be delivered, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. ("Five Things You Don’t Know About Healthcare Reform, August 21, 2013)
"The scope of healthcare reform and current market pressures are unparalleled in any other industry; the re-engineering of healthcare workforce roles now underway may completely change relationships between patients and clinicians in the next decade,” author Susan Salka writes.

At VISTA Staffing Solutions we would add, "Also expect huge changes in the physicians you recruit and they way you recruit them.”

Here is a recap, from our 2013 Whitepaper distributed at the ASPR annual conference, of the most dramatic shifts we anticipate:

Physicians seeking employment
Only 36% of today’s physicians work independently, according to a 2012 Accenture report. The rest are seeking steadier salaries and hours. According to the American Hospital Association, more than 91,000 doctors and dentists were employed by community hospitals in 2010, 30,000 more than in 1998.

The shift is most dramatic among young doctors. "Young doctors worry that practice ownership will mean too much time spent on administration, too many long hours at the office, too much stress and financial risk,” writes Aubrey Westgate in Physicians’ Practice.

Earlier generations of physicians were willing to accept those drawbacks in exchange for independence and earning potential, but young physicians have different priorities. According to the Great American Physician Survey by Physicians’ Practice, only 4 percent of respondents over 65 said they would give up partnership in exchange for a lighter workload; 21 percent under age 35 said they would. In addition, 4 out of 10 physicians under 35 would opt to earn less if it meant working fewer hours.

Dramatically increased competition for doctors
By expanding insurance coverage and Medicaid, developing ACOs, and more, the Affordable Care Act will intensify the physician shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015; 91,500 by 2020; and 130,600 by 2025.

It’s time to innovate with compensation/benefit packages, care delivery models, community-building partnerships, and physician leadership opportunities that will attract physicians and build market share in this reshaping market!

A shift in focus to primary care
Today’s physician workforce is approximately one-third primary care and two-thirds specialists. The ACA contains several boosts for primary care: funding additional residency programs, redistributing unfilled residency positions, encouraging community-based training, increasing Medicare/Medicaid payments, and compensating PCPs for administrative duties. The goal is to close the salary gap between primary care physicians and specialists.

So, the race for primary care physicians and advanced practitioners is on. Hospitalists are in demand too, as institutions relieve PCPs of inpatient duties so they can focus on outpatient programs.

Increased physician turnover
Many physicians postponed retirement during the recession, as their homes and 401(k)s lost value.
The recovering economy is the final puzzle piece that may allow doctors to retire with confidence. Over half of the licensed physicians in the US are over age 50 and 26% are over 60 ; the impact will be enormous.

How is your organization faring?
What changes have you seen? What’s worked out? What’s still looming? How can VISTA be a proactive partner and help you thrive? Please call your territory manager to discuss this and for a copy of the complete Whitepaper, 800-366-1884. The full Whitepaper can be accessed at

Healthcare Reform Influencing Physicians’ Career Choices, Sept. 4, 2012, Physicians Practice
A Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States, 2012, 2013, The Journal of Medical Regulation

Journal of ASPR - Fall 2013

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