Children’s Hospital Association Reports Shortage of Children’s Physicians

The results of a national survey of children’s hospitals show an alarming shortage of physicians or pediatricians and children’s specialists across the country.

The survey, conducted by the Children’s Hospital Association, highlights several troubling aspects to the shortage. For instance, in many hospitals position vacancies of 12 months or longer were common in children’s specialists, including vacancies in some crucial fields –neurology, general surgery and developmental-behavioral medicine. And 3 out of 4 hospitals surveyed said the ongoing vacancies have caused long wait times for appointments, up to 7 times longer than the ideal appointment wait time (2 weeks.) In fact, the average wait time for some of the affected children’s specialties is now: 15 weeks for developmental-behavioral medicine, 11 weeks for genetics, 9 weeks for neurology, 8 weeks for rheumatology, 8 weeks for dermatology, 7.5 weeks for adolescent psychiatry and 7 weeks for endocrinology. In addition, this has caused recruitment costs for children’s specialists to skyrocket (up 67% in the hospitals surveyed,) and for salary for these fields to greatly increase as well (up 55%.)

The shortage of physicians who care for children is being addressed in children’s hospitals across the nation now, so in the meantime efficiencies need to be made to help them see more patients in less time and keep costs down for hospitals.

Several efficiency measures have already been proven to be effective. For instance, Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio employed several new methods, including implementing a more efficient scheduling process in the M.R.I. department and implementing a new process for sterilizing surgical instruments, which increased the total number of surgeries the hospital can perform.

The psychiatric inpatient unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital found that even simple changes, such as making arrangements for outpatient resources as soon as a child entered the unit instead of waiting until they are ready to leave, helped them accommodate 250 more children a year.

Many hospitals and practices have found that using dictation and transcription to create patient records reduces the amount of time it takes physicians to create patient notes. This allows for physicians to spend more time seeing patients, and helps them accommodate more patients overall. In fact, dictation and transcription is proven to be 5 to 10 times faster than manually inputting a note in an EMR or using a voice recognition system to produce a note. In addition, many medical transcription companies can now interface with EMR systems, “pushing” the Discrete Reportable Data of the patient note into the correct text fields. This also eliminates paper records and allows for data transfer between departments or hospitals, further increasing efficiency.

The bottom line is that hospitals need to help overcome these shortages by increasing their efficiency – because at the end of the day, no one wants a child to get sicker while they are waiting to see a doctor.

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http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pediatric-shortages-long-wait-times-reinforce-need-for-improved-access-to-health-care-for-children-163386956.html