3d Health, Inc. Blog

The Shortage of Physicians Across the U.S.: A National Study (Part 1 of 3)

Jul 22, 2016 1:43:42 PM / by M. Shane Foreman

The_Shortage_of_Physicians_Across_the_U.S._Part_1_MAP.jpgOur team at 3d Health recently completed an in-depth analysis of the supply, demand, aggregation, and distribution of physicians throughout the United States. The results are both interesting and a little scary for those of us in the business of attempting to attract physicians to hospitals and health systems. We are excited to share the results and key findings with our clients and friends throughout the industry.

Patient Base in the U.S.

There are just over 322 million residents in the U.S. today. 84% of this population lives within urban and suburban areas while just 16% of the U.S. population resides in a rural setting. The gravitational pull toward urban and suburban areas is very important when thinking about the best way to get needed physicians to rural areas.

Over the next five years, the portion of the population that is 65 or older grows from 15% of the U.S. to 17%. When we look out 20 years to 2036, the 65 and older crowd in the U.S. is projected to be 25% of the population. This is significant because the aging of the population spikes the demand for physician services – on average, patients that are 65 and older visit their physicians almost nine times per year. This is in comparison to around four times per year for pediatric patients, three times per year for the 18 to 44 age cohort, and five times per year for 45 to 64 year olds.

Current Demand for Physicians in the U.S.

In order to project the demand for 44 office-based physician specialties across the U.S., we utilized 3d Health’s proprietary demand model, which is both age and gender-specific. The overall demand for physicians is highest in the South (38% of the total) and lowest in the Northeast (at 18%). The West accounted for 23% of the demand and the Midwest was 21%.

Optimally, the U.S. population requires 268,001 primary care physicians, 138,435 medical sub-specialists, and 115,273 surgical sub-specialists. In total, within the 44 office-based specialties analyzed, we need 521,709 physicians across the U.S.

Current Supply of Physicians in the U.S.

Today, we have a total supply of 434,810 physicians in these same specialties. Primary care accounts for 48% of the total supply (with 209,569 physicians), medical sub-specialists are 29% of the total supply (123,932), and surgical sub-specialists are 23% of the supply (101,309).

When thinking about the U.S. supply of physicians on a per capita basis, rural markets make do with a lot less physicians. On average, urban markets have 144 physicians per 100,000 people while rural markets have just 85 physicians per 100,000 population.

The Shortage of Physicians Today

Today, there is a shortage of 86,899 office-based physicians across the United States. The primary care deficit is 58,432, the medical sub-specialist deficit is 14,503, and the surgical sub-specialist deficit is 13,964. Within primary care, Family Medicine is 69% of the PCP deficit, with Internal Medicine at 14%, Pediatrics at 10%, and OB/Gyn at 7%. California, Texas, and Florida have the largest primary care deficits in the U.S.

Beyond primary care, the largest shortage of physicians includes:

Largest Shortage of Physicians by type

This is part 1 of a 3-part series and reflects the baseline reality of physician shortages across the country. Check back next Friday for our next post. It will examine the shortage of physicians as we project out 5, 10, and 20 years.

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Shane Foreman at sforeman@3dhealthinc.com or 312-423-2671.

Topics: Patient Access to Physicians, Consumer Strategy

M. Shane Foreman

Written by M. Shane Foreman