Healthcare in the United States is currently facing the impending threat of a shortage of doctors. While this conversation has been alive for many years now, it is only more recently that it’s picked up traction and attention on a wider scale. Experts have pointed out that the demand for healthcare services will most likely exceed the supply. Based on research done by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), the prediction is that there will be a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030. Rural areas are the biggest victim of this problem, as they are already dealing with this shortage.
While the reasons behind this state of affairs are multi-faceted and complex, some of them can be identified. The leading causes seem to be physician burnout, aging baby boomers, the reduced number of residency slots available to fresh graduates and the rampant shut down of rural hospitals.
As we continue to modernise and make technological advancements, there has been something of a generational shift. This shift has led to an increased demand for integrating healthcare with the digital world.
- By embracing these advancements, doctors can reach a larger number of patients and exert greater control over their workflow, not to mention the conveniences provided by these methods that allow doctors to have less-demanding work hours.
- Using digital solutions to coordinate everything can really ease the burden on doctors. No-shows are the biggest problem faced by doctors, and thankfully they can easily be resolved by digitally syncing the physician’s calendar, meaning that patients, call centre agents and referring agencies all have direct access to available appointment slots in real time. As a result, all appointment slots can be used effectively.
- Another benefit is that these methods enable self-scheduling and can send out automatic reminders. This also goes a long way in reducing no-shows as patients can get rescheduled within the same week, and sometimes within the same day!
- Integrating analytics to organise patient data is another innovative solution. Analytics enable doctors to easily track the behaviour of patients, optimise their calendars and understand the needs of their patients better. Implementing these analytics makes it possible to prevent chaos during the day and manage appointments according to demand.
- An extremely important aspect of digitising healthcare is that it becomes much easier for those in rural areas to contact doctors, physicians, etc. Rather than having to travel all the way to an urban centre, these tools provide people in rural areas with direct access at their fingertips.
Not So Hopeless After All
While it should be acknowledged that the doctor shortage is a very real problem, it’s also important to think of solutions that can alleviate some of the strain on the medical professionals who are available. These digital methods provide an opportunity for both physicians and patients to experience faster and more convenient medical help. And in the case of physicians, it also allows them to manage their workload in a more streamlined fashion. It’s hoped that in the future these methods can be integrated on a widespread basis to benefit as many people as possible.