The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will create significant changes to the healthcare world, all of which will impact rheumatology. Healthcare coverage will now become available to over 32 million Americans, straining the abilities of the current physician population. In a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, “The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections through 2025,” it is noted that universal healthcare coverage would increase the projected physician shortfall by 31,000 physicians (25%).1 During this same time period, at least one-third of practicing physicians are expected to retire, which will increase the demand for care for the aging population approximately 36%.² With the demand for physicians increasing, the number of medical graduates is unable to keep pace. This will pose an immediate threat to the future of physician practices, the workforce, and patient access to care.
While uncertainties within the healthcare industry and concern about declining access to physician services across the country continue to grow, payers and policy makers are positioning themselves to make sweeping changes. These changes could translate into administrative burdens that will increase cost rather than add value to rheumatology practices and academic medical centers.
In an effort to meet these challenges, the ACR has embarked upon an expanded data-collection project through a benchmarking survey. Expanded data-collection efforts are needed to accurately understand the complex structure of physician supply and its relationship to demand for healthcare services. These data will raise awareness to key issues facing rheumatology practices and academic medical centers.
This is an important first step toward documenting the workforce trends that reflect the momentum across subspecialties.
The ACR national benchmarking survey results will allow the ACR to develop effective resources and programs to support practices and academic medical centers. Using these data, we can identify potential problem areas in practice management, determine any gaps in practice flow, evaluate best practices, and review specific areas related to improving a practice’s bottom line. In addition, the survey data will serve as a resource to promote legislative and regulatory changes on Capitol Hill.
Our request for data is specific and detailed for information that will give rheumatology a competitive advantage compared to other subspecialties for the opportunities to train, recruit, and retain the best physicians in the country.
This survey will only take approximately 15 minutes from your busy schedule and will contribute to this organized effort to raise awareness and support rheumatology practitioners across the country.