In the News: July 11–18

Address Access Challenges With a Low-Acuity Care Network

A recent Patient Engagement HIT article reviews 4 key challenges patients face in accessing health care, as well as strategies to overcome these obstacles. First, limited office hours and appointment availability restrict patients from accessing health care at a time convenient to them. Health care organizations should consider offering office hours outside of regular business and school hours and look into different models that offer care outside the doctor’s office. Rural populations also face unique challenges in terms of clinician shortages and geographic barriers; virtual health is one avenue health care organizations are exploring to connect rural hospitals with urban and suburban hospitals. Similarly, it is important to consider the transportation barriers patients face in accessing health care, such as patients’ inability to drive. Uber and Lyft have plans to address these obstacles by developing partnerships to help patients get to their appointments. Lastly, health care access issues may also be related to education and ensuring patients are suitably informed to access the right type of facility.

Addressing patient access to health care requires organizations to leverage different, convenient low-acuity sites of care. Sg2 believes a more holistic strategy, rather than reactionary or opportunistic efforts, can create a superior solution to today’s most pressing primary care challenges: rising consumer expectations, untapped capacity despite clinician supply shortfalls, high-cost structures, and assumption of clinical and financial risk. To learn more about how to tailor a low-acuity care network to specific market conditions, read the Sg2 report Low Acuity Sites of the Future: Reconfiguring the Primary Care Puzzle.

Physician Shortages Are Growing at an Alarming Rate

A recent Patient Engagement HIT article discusses one of the most widely faced challenges among health care organizations today and in the future: the physician workforce shortage. An Association of American Medical Colleges analysis estimates a shortage between 21,100 and 55,200 primary care physicians and 24,800 to 65,800 specialty providers by 2032. Hospitals and clinics are not only recruiting primary care physicians and advanced practitioners, but specialists are also increasingly needed to care for the population that is aging and sicker. A report from a physician recruiting firm shows that recruitment for specialty physicians increased from 67 percent in 2015 to 78 percent within the past 12 months.

Various elements are driving the supply of physicians down, including the cost barriers to medical education, physician time spent completing nonclinical tasks and an aging workforce. Organizations need to think critically and develop strategies that help alleviate the demand by leveraging physician resources such as advanced practitioners and virtual health technology. To gain more insight into a comprehensive approach to strategic workforce planning for present challenges and intimidating future projections, read the recent Sg2 report Strategic Workforce Planning: Finding Focus.

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