2015 was a big year for changes in healthcare, ranging from patient privacy issues to an increase in the use of wearable healthcare tracking devices. But more importantly, there were many changes that may have had an impact on your facility and could continue to play an important role in 2016 and beyond. Here are just a few of them.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required all hospitals and healthcare facilities to begin using ICD-10 codes October 1, 2015, and would no longer accept ICD-9 codes. ICD-10 was delayed three times before it was implemented last fall, and critics say the change was long overdue, since most other countries have used the codes for years and it could help the U.S. better monitor diseases and provide better care.
Many facilities invested a lot of time into training staff on the new codes, and the cost of implementing ICD-10 — an average of more than $8,100 for small practices — made this requirement a hot topic in 2015.
Growing Demand for Primary Care Providers
In March 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicted a shortage of up to 31,000 primary care physicians in the United States by 2025, thanks in part to the large number of Baby Boomer physicians retiring and the cap on residency salaries in place since 1997. To combat the shortage, some medical schools are offering shorter programs and incentives for physicians to work in rural settings, while others are opening community-based programs, since research shows that a significant percentage of physicians practice within 50 miles of their residency programs.
Physician Burnout Increasing
Medscape found that 46 percent of physicians were experiencing burnout, a significant increase from its 2013 physician lifestyle report, which found 39.8 percent of physicians were burned out. Emergency medicine and primary care physicians were most likely to experience burnout (at 52 and 50 percent, respectively).
Perhaps not surprisingly, Weatherby Healthcare‘s top locum tenens specialty in 2015 was emergency medicine, and primary care was also in the top 10. As more physicians find the demands of full-time work too great and leave their practices, facilities turn to locum tenens doctors to fill the gaps.
Jobs Becoming Harder to Fill
A recent benchmarking survey from the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR) found that it takes an average of 204 days to fill an open physician position — which means some facilities must go without coverage for seven months or more.
Family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine were the top specialties searched for, with 70 percent of organizations reporting searching for a family medicine physician.
Trouble in Medical School
Several KevinMD articles referenced the devastating number of students who commit suicide in medical school, and Dr. Pamela Wible noted in an interview following her TEDMED talk that the U.S. loses the equivalent of an entire medical school of physicians each year to suicide. One doctor suggested crippling student debt may be one cause of physician suicide and recommended trimming medical school by one year or having more debt forgiveness programs — and physician happiness will continue to be at the forefront of discussions in the future.
As healthcare continues to evolve and more and more patients receive care thanks to the Affordable Care Act, physicians and healthcare facilities will need to adapt as well and look for more effective ways to provide a positive environment for everyone.
What were your top trends of 2015? What do you predict will happen in 2016?