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April 2, 2014

HANYS' Survey Finds Increased Need for Primary Care Physicians

Demand Continues to Rise as Hospitals Focus on Population Health, Community Settings

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State’s physician shortage continues, with a significant need for primary care physicians, according to a new report by the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), Doctor Shortage: Outpatient and Primary Care Need Growing.

HANYS’ 2013 physician advocacy survey of hospitals and health systems found a need for 1,026 physicians statewide, excluding New York City, 26% of which are primary care physicians. As the Affordable Care Act assigns hospitals and health systems to create healthier communities with an emphasis on preventive care, 63% of respondents said their primary care capacity did not meet patient need.

Ninety-seven percent indicated primary care sites as part of their systems: 76% have off-site extension clinics; 55% have off-site hospital-owned ambulatory care practices; and 60% have on-site ambulatory care practices. Seventy percent of respondents indicated that recruitment of primary care physicians was very difficult. Looking to non-physician clinicians to fill that void, many members said they were also having difficulty recruiting both nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

“As our hospitals and health systems across New York State transition to population health management, they are met with a significant need for primary care doctors to fill these critical roles,” said HANYS President Dennis Whalen. “New York State must create more opportunities  for physicians to choose to practice in under-served communities, ensuring all New Yorkers have access to care.”

Mr. Whalen also thanked the Legislature and the Governor for including new funding in the 2014-15 State Budget for Doctors Across New York (DANY), a program that provides financial practice support and loan repayment assistance to physicians in underserved areas. This will fund 35 new awards for each program.  

To help alleviate the shortage and pressures it causes, HANYS recommends the following:

  • Telemedicine reform: HANYS has been successful in changing the requirement for duplicate credentialing of health care professionals, eliminating that burden for many rural hospitals seeking to provide telemedicine services, and will continue to push for insurance companies to cover telemedicine.  
  • Expand the highly successful DANY and Primary Care Services Corps funding.
  • Develop opportunities for rural and small city residencies, as well as initiatives to encourage students to practice primary care.

While primary care physicians were the most difficult to recruit, hospitals also reported difficulty with recruiting psychiatrists, surgical sub-specialists, orthopedists, emergency physicians, surgeons, and internal medicine sub-specialists.  Sixty-one percent of respondents indicated there were times when their emergency department lacked coverage for certain specialties, resulting in the need to transfer patients to other providers.  Another 32% had to reduce or eliminate services in the past year due to a lack of physician coverage. In rural areas, 86% of facilities had to transfer patients and 51% had to reduce or eliminate services due to the shortages.

Other topics covered in the survey report include Patient-Centered Medical Home participation, use of electronic medical records, providers in rural areas, and a breakdown of regional trends.

HANYS’ annual survey was developed in collaboration with Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, Rochester Regional Healthcare Association, Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State, and Western New York Healthcare Association.

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Melissa Mansfield
Manager, Public and Media Relations
(518) 431-7770

The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) is the only statewide hospital and continuing care association in New York State, representing 500 non-profit and public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, and other health care organizations.