Specialty Physician Demand Will Continue to Climb, Increasing Revenue

Physician shortage estimates continue to climb. The United States could see physician shortages of up to 37,800 to 124,000 by 2034, with the most significant shortages affecting specialty physicians.

The increasing demand for physicians specializing in surgical subspecialties can be attributed to the aging population, which necessitates more intricate medical care. In 2019, individuals aged 65 or older constituted 34% of the physician demand. Projections indicate that by 2034, this demographic will contribute to 42% of the demand for medical professionals.

This demographic shift has impacted which physicians are most recruited. For thirteen years, family medicine was one of the most recruited physician specialties nationwide. For the first time in over a decade, there has been an increase in specialist recruiting.

Top 10 Most Recruited Specialties:

  1. Gastroenterologists
  2. Radiologists
  3. Rheumatologists
  4. Hematologists/Oncologists
  5. Urologists
  6. Cardiologists
  7. Pulmonary/Critical Care
  8. Psychiatrists
  9. OB/GYNs
  10. Neurologists

Despite the demand for specialized physicians, it's crucial to recognize that these specialties also play a pivotal role in revenue generation. Five of these specialties generate up to seven times their salary for average net annual hospital revenue: cardiology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology, family medicine, and OB/GYN. Securing permanent or locum tenens specialist physicians in 2024 will be critical for healthcare employers' finances and care offerings.

Retail Clinics Continue to Rise in 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, a growing number of individuals are choosing retail health as their primary care solution. This trend is primarily driven by patients searching for convenient healthcare alternatives, and retailers are strategically responding to meet the rising demand for more economically viable care solutions.

Retail clinics like CVS, Walmart, and Amazon are revolutionizing healthcare delivery models, focusing on the patient's needs as a consumer. With their customer-centric focus, retail clinic volumes have surged by 200% over the past five years. Meanwhile, emergency room visits declined by 1%, and claims filed by primary care offices dropped by 13%.

Notably, 85% of retail clinics are owned by large retail chains such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. As retail clinics prioritize expansion plans in 2024, there is an opportunity for hospitals and health systems to partner with retail clinics for referrals. For instance, CVS MinuteClinics made 4 million referrals to primary care providers at health systems and hospitals for patients with more complex needs. These partnerships can improve healthcare delivery and create a more integrated, patient-centered healthcare system.

Primary Care Shortages Impacting Health Systems Nationwide 2024

The projected shortage of primary care physicians by the Association of American Medical Colleges is expected to range from 17,800 to 48,000 by 2034. It has already begun to impact health systems across the nation.

Currently, an estimated 83 million people in the U.S. live in areas without adequate access to primary care physicians. Despite the pressing need, recruiting primary care doctors in the United States has become increasingly difficult, with new medical graduates displaying declining interest in primary care. This is primarily due to the lower wages of primary care, additional administrative tasks, and the complexities of EHR, making it less appealing to those seeking work-life balance.

Innovative solutions are imperative to alleviate the effects of the shortage. Health systems can implement more virtual appointments through telehealth, leverage AI, and leverage nurse practitioners and physician assistants to ensure primary care needs are met.

As primary care shortages persist into 2024, locum tenens physicians and advanced practitioners will play a crucial role in bridging gaps in coverage and ensuring continuous access to quality care.

AI in Healthcare 2024: Advancing Patient Care and Administrative Efficiency

In 2024, AI technologies will continue to play a pivotal role in healthcare nationwide. AI's ability to improve diagnostic accuracy, streamline administrative tasks, personalize treatment plans, and enhance patient outcomes will continue to improve healthcare through its efficiency, accuracy, and convenience. In a recent survey, 51% of U.S. adults look forward to the major advancements and breakthroughs AI will bring to healthcare next year.

A few of the main areas in healthcare where AI is being implemented include:

Administrative Tasks: Long recognized as a primary contributor to physician burnout, administrative tasks are transforming with the integration of administrative AI. This form of AI assists providers with electronic health record (EHR) management, appointment scheduling, medical billing, and, most importantly, allowing providers to focus more time on direct patient care.

Medical Imaging: AI algorithms can analyze medical images like MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans, helping physicians in specialties such as radiology detect abnormalities more quickly and accurately. By analyzing images, AI helps to improve treatment efficiency and elevates the overall quality of patient care, speeding up diagnosis and reducing the risk of human error.

Remote Patient Monitoring: The advent of AI wearables and remote monitoring devices enables the collection of real-time data, including heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. This collection of information facilitates personalized treatment plans, allowing physicians to intervene promptly and tailor interventions based on individual patient needs.

AI Robotics: Innovative surgical procedures benefit from the contribution of AI-powered robotics. These technologies assist surgeons in performing complex procedures with unprecedented precision, showcasing the potential for AI to enhance surgical outcomes.

Healthcare leaders will continue to see the pairing of AI with clinicians in 2024. This AI-powered future has the potential to drive results that can help improve patient care, diagnostic accuracy, and the overall efficiency of healthcare facilities nationwide.