Headlines about a looming doctor shortage for the US have been kicking around for a while, with the Association of American Medical Colleges forecasting a gap of 130,000 by 2025. Don't believe it, write Drs. Scott Gottlieb and Ezekiel Emanuel in the New York Times. The doomsayers generally cite an aging population and the increased number of people who will have health insurance under ObamaCare. But they neglect to mention that ever-improving medical technology and increased responsibilities for nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and others who support doctors can mitigate the problem.
We will need some policy changes to get this done, say the authors. That includes "expanding the scope of practice laws for nurse practitioners and pharmacists to allow them to provide comprehensive primary care; changing laws inhibiting telemedicine across state lines; and reforming medical malpractice laws that force providers to stick with inefficient practices simply to reduce liability risk." With changes like that, along with technology that makes treatment more efficient, the supposed shortage will vanish. "With doctors, as with drugs or surgery, more is not always better," they write. Click for their full column.