Frequently, I hear about colleagues who are looking for a partner to join their busy practice, a scientist to join their units or even for a chief to lead their division. Although I know the statistics of supply and demand in rheumatology, I am amazed at how the demand seems to outstrip the supply of rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals.
I am also amazed at how little data most folks seem to have to inform them of when, how and who to hire or how their practice’s performance compares with others. Those who have a strong and verifiable understanding of their economic status will succeed whether in independent, system-owned or academic practices.
There have been many publications in recent years discussing the workforce shortage that challenges rheumatology and other subspecialties. This challenge is projected to continue into the near future. Additionally, the rheumatology practice environment is facing significant changes created by healthcare reform and other market forces.
The ACR continues to work toward increasing, strengthening and diversifying our subspecialty through many initiatives. One component of this effort is data collection about the workforce and the practice of rheumatology to keep the ACR and its members informed. Information is power.
I would like to focus this month’s column on the ACR Benchmark Tool—specifically, the data collected using the 2012 Benchmark Tool and the changes to the Benchmark Tool that will begin in 2014.
Angus Worthing, MD, Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates, Washington, D.C., participated in the first ACR benchmark survey & says he also plans to participate when the new tool opens. ‘I encourage all my colleagues to make time to complete the survey when it opens in September so the ACR can gather & provide the most up-to-date data nationwide on practicing rheumatologists,’ he says.
The ACR’s fundamental purpose for this project is to Advance Rheumatology! by ensuring an adequate rheumatology practice environment and workforce in an era of increased prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal diseases. The Benchmark Tool has the potential to be the ACR’s primary source of member-reported data and could aid in our overall goals of developing tools to address evolving payment reforms, improving practice costs and efficiency, enhancing quality of care, and strengthening research and training in rheumatology. To pursue these goals with any vigor, we need a complete database, and that requires your participation and a bit of your time. Its utility depends on all of us reporting accurate data.
Highlights from the 2012 Benchmark Tool
The most recent ACR Benchmark Tool was released in February 2012, and by the time it closed in February 2014, only 682 physicians had answered all or even just some of the questions. I will discuss some trends that were suggested from an analysis of these responses. A full report of the data collected during this period is available to all ACR members by logging in and accessing the My Profile section.