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Physician Access - Can Shared Medical Appointments Help?

A recently published article on Health Leaders stated that the United states will be short approximately 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,000 specialists by the year 2020.  We currently have a shortage of 13,700.

Even more daunting, according to a recent survey of 13,575 physicians throughout the U.S., physicians are seeing less patients today than they did four years ago.  “Physicians are seeing 16.6% fewer patients per day than they did in 2008, a decline that could lead to tens of millions of fewer patients seen per year.”  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put out this report that also states that AMA publications show a decrease in the number of patients seen.  Even though physicians are seeing less patients, 75% of the physicians surveyed said that they were overextended and overworked or at full capacity.  Only 25% thought that they had more time to see more patients.

These are daunting statistics.  Just as daunting is that 80% of the physicians surveyed by The Physicians Foundation stated that the morale of the physicians they know is somewhat or very negative.  80%.

Physicians who use shared medical appointments report higher job satisfaction.  They decrease their backlogged schedules, spend more time with their patients, and increase their efficiency.  Their patients have better access to their doctor, more support from their peers, and tend to have better self-management skills for chronic conditions.  

The way that we deliver care has to change.  It has to evolve.  From workflow, to technology, to how we think about our everyday office visit.  Shared medical appointments are one piece of that puzzle.  

There are lots of organizations that have successfully implemented shared medical appointments:

  • Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Kaiser
  • Veteran’s Health Administration
  • Dartmouth Hitchcock
  • University of Virginia

Could you be next?