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New Tool Forecasts Physician Shortage by Area, Specialty

Doctor Filling out Medical Records

Doctor Filling out Medical RecordsEarlier this month, FierceHealthIT shared how a new tool developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) could predict physician supply and demand. The online model was created to determine how the physician shortage will directly impact each specialty, region, and state, and the nation on the whole.

Called the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool, it uses a large amount of clinical feedback to track supply and demand across all specialties and locales using such variables as Medicaid expansion, physician retirement rates, and changes in the locations of residencies and fellowships. Researchers and developers hope it will engage policymakers, clinicians, and health system executives to better understand and address the imbalances in the supply and distribution of physicians.

Development of the tool was based on the idea that physician specialists have overlapping areas of expertise, which can be utilized when filling needs in hard-hit areas of the US. With this in mind, researchers sought input from practitioners and hospital systems across the country, FierceHealthIT reported.

“National data on the numbers of physicians needed in various specialties is neither accurate nor useful for workforce planning and policy at the local and state level,” says Erin Fraher, PhD, leader of the development team at the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy. “Instead, we need to understand how alternative combinations of physicians and other healthcare providers can provide needed services in a market area.”

In an announcement released by UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, the web-based tool is described as interactive and user-friendly. It was funded by a grant from The Physicians Foundation, a national nonprofit that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and facilitate the delivery of healthcare to patients.

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Amy Coelho

Amy Coehlo has more than 10 years of combined experience in the areas of journalistic and technical writing, public relations, brand management, marketing and communications.

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