The U.S. healthcare system is on the verge of a potentially catastrophic shortage that would result in as many as 122,000 fewer physicians than will be required to serve the population by 2032. A shortage of providers could result in lower quality care, reduced time per patient encounter, overworked physicians and staff leading to increased stress levels, extended wait times for appointments, and increased cost for services.
There are, however, several statistics that point to an increase in the number of physicians in the coming years, which may help bridge the gap between healthcare supply and demand.
- There has been an increase in interest in medical careers, with a 25% increase in medical school applications over the past decade.
- In the same period, there has been a 60% increase in the number of med school graduates in the United States, which will help supply new physicians to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
- Overall job growth for physicians and surgeons is expected to grow at a rate of 7% through 2028, which is faster than the average U.S. occupation.
This alone, however, isn’t enough to overcome increased demand for healthcare services. But there is reason for optimism, thanks to a growing acceptance of how modern technology – specifically, telehealth applications – can be used to address this problem. There’s little doubt connected health services can add flexibility to healthcare delivery, increasing access to and efficiency of healthcare services, and potentially reducing costs for patients and providers.
Physicians – particularly younger ones – appear to have interest in adopting new models for healthcare delivery, such as telehealth, and are ready for a connected healthcare system that will enable broader adoption of new tools. Even two years ago, a majority (62%) of Millennial physicians said that EHRs are an important component of quality healthcare. Connected health solutions can help automate the population of data into EHRs, reducing effort for physicians and allowing them to spend more time with patients.
Millennial physicians exhibit characteristics that support their broader willingness to adopt connected health. It is also a collaborative generation, used to sharing data and information. Connected health is a natural extension of their social habits, allowing them to collaborate with colleagues at a distance, share patient information, leverage aggregate patient databases, engage patients via mobile or web apps, and more. They also value staffing flexibility and work/life balance, which are more likely in larger practices, especially considering larger practices have a higher adoption rate for telehealth, which may account for an increase in the number of physicians who identify telehealth among their sills, a figure that doubled from 2015-1028.
The Millennial generation, as a whole, has grown up in a digitally connected society with technology at their fingertips, making it a logical physician population group to drive greater adoption of connected health solutions that have the potential to create a better healthcare system.
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