The U.S. will experience a shortage of as many as 60,300 specialty physicians by 2025, mainly due to population growth, aging, and the fact that more than two in five active physicians will be at retirement age within the next decade. Rural communities will have it worse—with almost a quarter of Americans living in rural areas and only 9% of physicians practicing there.
Many hospitals have telemedicine capabilities now. Smaller hospitals are likely to have processes in place to deal with specific uses where they have the biggest need for specialists that they don’t have on staff. Two areas that are the most common for small hospitals are acute stroke care and emergency psychiatry.
Physician shortages and the uneven national distribution of specialists are exacerbated by an aging population, which will result in higher patient volumes, increasing demand. By 2030, every Baby Boomer will be age 65 or older. As the population ages, chronic medical conditions will increase significantly. The need to expand clinical capacity can be met with deploying our scarce resources via telemedicine in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
The increase of telemedicine visits during the pandemic is now well-documented. Telemedicine protects not just patients, but also physicians, from the risk of infection. Telemedicine can help with keeping non-urgent cases out of hospitals, too, freeing up resources, protective gear, and space for critically-ill patients.
Regulatory and Compliance Issues
The ever-changing regulatory and compliance landscape can create profound financial pressure for hospitals and directly impact their bottom line. Telemedicine is emerging as a solution to create additional clinical capacity, improve clinical quality, and drive operational efficiencies—creating a path to improved profitability for struggling healthcare providers.