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New research – physician shortage can be avoided

In this month’s Health Affairs journal, a new article presents research that argues even with the influx of new patients under Obamacare, providing smarter care can allow us to avoid any dreaded “physician shortage.”  In short, the authors look at the data on projected need and current resources and make a good case that having non-physicians in primary health care practices like nurses and physician assistants deal with more common problems and having providers work more collaboratively can address the needs of new patients:

We show that the implementation of some increasingly popular operational changes in the ways clinicians deliver care—including the use of teams or “pods,” better information technology and sharing of data, and the use of nonphysicians—have the potential to offset completely the increase in demand for physician services while improving access to care, thereby averting a primary care physician shortage.

I always thought this was one of the most morally blind complaints about Obamacare:  “We shouldn’t cover people with new insurance because there won’t be enough doctors to see them all.”  As if Americans wouldn’t try and help someone hurt or dying just because someone said it would be hard.  Now it looks like a smarter and more efficient health system can address the needs of new patients.

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