The demand for primary care physicians (PCPs) started to increase long before the Affordable Care Act became law and promised to flood PCP offices with millions of people who had been uninsured. First, there was the little matter of medical school students following the money and realizing that they could make a lot more as specialists (/archives/2007/6/what-primary-care-physician-shortage-means-health-plans).
It comes as no surprise, then, that for the seventh straight year primary care practitioners (family medicine and internal medicine) are the most highly sought physicians, according to a survey by the search company Merritt Hawkins. The survey tracks 3,097 recruiting assignments the company conducted from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013.
There are other causes for demand as well. For instance, we’ve watched the rise of retail clinics for some time (/archives/2006/6/retail-medical-clinics-draw-patients-payers). Apparently, so have consumers.
Merritt Hawkins cites “a proliferating number of health care service sites, including multihospital systems, large medical groups, urgent care centers, retail clinics, free-standing emergency departments, academic centers, community health centers, government facilities and traditional community hospitals” as driving PCP demand.
“The new mantra in health care is to be ‘everywhere, all the time,’” says Mark Smith, Merritt Hawkins president. “This means reaching into communities with a growing number of free-standing facilities or other sites that are convenient and accessible. These facilities have one thing in common — they all need primary care physicians.”
Note also that nurse practitioners and physician assistants weren’t even part of the survey until a few years ago.
Note: The numbers represent requests for recruitment
Source: Merritt Hawkins’ 2013 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives