It’s been a trend for several years: The demand for primary care physicians is accelerating. PCPs are family practice physicians, internists, and pediatricians. This is a “continued and sustained realignment of the physician recruiting market,” according to a recent report issued by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a physician staffing company. The report says that the demand for primary care physicians spiked in the 1990s during the heyday of managed care, but subsequently declined, while demand for surgical and diagnostic specialists increased.

In 2008, the demand for specialists remains strong, but hospitals, medical groups, and other organizations are focusing on recruiting family physicians, general internists, general internists working as hospitalists, and pediatricians.

Several things have affected recruiting.

Many medical school graduates gravitated toward primary care residencies in the 1990s, increasing the supply. Today’s medical graduates are largely avoiding primary care, and in fact, medical school residencies in primary care report a shortfall when trying to fill their slots.

This dip in supply coincides with the renewed focus that hospitals and medical groups are putting on primary care after several years of neglect. And in the case of internal medicine, the aging of the population is also fueling demand. Hospitals and medical groups are seeing the effects and are scrambling to staff appropriately.

Income offered to top 5 recruited specialties (base salary only)

Source for all: Merritt Hawkins & Associates. 2008 Review of Physician and CRNA Recruiting Incentives

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There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.