New models of primary care delivery could reduce the anticipated primary care physician shortage, according to an article published in Medical Economics.

Jeffrey Bendix reviewed two care delivery models that were described in a study in Health Affairs. The Patient-Centered Medical Home and the nurse-managed health center both rely more on non-physician providers than most primary care practices; their potential impact was assessed.

Based on forecasting performed in the study, assuming the current status quo remains, there would be a shortage of 45,000 primary care doctors and a surplus of 38,000 non-physician providers in 2025. If Patient-Centered Medical Homes and nurse-managed health centers provided care to 45 and 5 percent of the population, respectively, there would be a reduction in the shortage of primary care providers (to 24,000) and a surplus of 11,000 non-physician providers. The primary care physician shortage could be further decreased with an increase in the panel size of the average Patient-Centered Medical Home provider by 20 percent.

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“The authors [of the Health Affairs study] caution, however, that realizing their forecasts will require additional changes, such as liberalizing scope-of-practice laws to allow midlevel providers to perform expanding roles, and new forms of payment that reward providers for population health management and large panel sizes rather than face-to-face visits,” Bendix writes.