According to a study commissioned by the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, the Florida physician shortage will escalate drastically over the next 10 years. If things stay the same, the state will be some 7,000 doctors short, according to Tim Dall, author of the study and managing director of IHS Global. “Over the foreseeable future, the ability of Florida to provide at least a national average level of care is about 7- to 10- percent below the national average,” he told Health News Florida. Tim Goldfarb, an executive vice president at UF Health Shands, said medical schools and lawmakers need to address the problem, according to Health News Florida. Otherwise by 2025, we will be short at least 7,000 physicians in our state. Specialties such as psychiatry, general surgery and radiology are areas of major concern. In addition, they are concerned of shortages in cancer care, rheumatology and family medicine.
The study further broke down the data to Florida’s 11 Medicaid regions, finding less populated regions will be more greatly affected. Drawing doctors to rural and nonmetropolitan areas is one of the biggest challenges for the impending shortage, as FierceHealthcare has reported. Dall said the study is not a formal recommendation. “The question is, how can we best optimize things so that we have the right number, the right specialty mix of physicians, and that we can attract them and retain them in the state of Florida,” Dall said. The nation will be short by 91,0000 doctors by 2020, according to some estimates, although many of the studies predicting physician shortages have proven inaccurate and overblown, sas FierceHealthcare previously reported. Retiring baby boomers, an aging population and the arrival of the Affordable Care Act have all been cited as instigators in the shortage, potentially leading to a national crisis.
Residency programs are key to increasing the number of doctors in Florida, but that requires a significant boost to state and federal budgets. Last year, the state added $80 million to the amount it invests in medical residencies, as part of the state’s Medicaid budget. And Governor Rick Scott has asked to add another $7.5 million to the 2015 budget.
The question is and will always be – how can we as Floridians put our best foot forward so that we have the right number, the right specialty mix of physicians, and that we can attract them and retain them in the state of Florida. We also need to make sure we have quality trained physicians to care for our increasing elderly population here in Florida.