Home > Medical issues, Public awareness > Study Predicts Shortage of Neurologists

Study Predicts Shortage of Neurologists

Image courtesy David Castillo Dominici @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.netIn the April 17 issue of Neurology, a study reported that the number of neurologists practicing in the U.S. is showing a decline, and is predicted to drop even further in the future.  Study author Dr. Thomas Vidic, of the Elkhart Clinic in Elkhart, Ind., reported that this shortage was likely to make it harder for patients to find a neurologist, and to wait longer for an appointment when they do find one.  (In the past, it was shown that new patients had to wait an average of 35 business days to see a neurologist in 2012.)

Researchers indicated that, at the present time, 11% more neurologists are needed to meet patients’ needs.  By 2025, that number is expected to increase to 19%, due primarily to three factors.  Many medical students are opting to enter other specialties, largely for financial reasons.  Also, as the population ages, there are going to be more and more people needing the services of a neurologist .  One in six Americans currently is affected by a neurological condition, and that number is expected to increase for a number of reasons.  (For example, the number of persons with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple by 2050, and this is only one disorder.)  In addition, with the proposed reforms in health care coverage, more people who need care are likely to gain access to coverage.

In a news release, the study authors stated that the current Medicare payment system does not give adequate credit for one-on-one evaluations by neurologists.  This has, in part, contributed to many existing physicians and medical students moving toward more lucrative specialties.  Hence, they argue that increased payment for neurological services by Medicare and private insurance companies will encourage doctors to enter the field of neurology.

On April 23, 150 neurologists will travel to Washington to meet with Congress, in an attempt to elicit support for increasing patients’ access to neurological care with better reimbursement to providers.  The public can also help out with this effort, by contacting their representatives in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  They can also work to get the word out to others around the country to do the same, and to work through whatever means possible to increase attention to this problem.

Original article can be found here.


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