UNC develops tool to predict doctor shortages

Jul. 30, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

A new web-based tool developed at a UNC-Chapel Hill health research center will help predict physician shortages and other workforce trends, according to a news release sent Wednesday.
The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill developed the tool, which was paid for by a grant from The Physicians Foundation, according to a news release.
Called the “FutureDocs Forecasting Tool,” the web-based system estimates doctor supply, use of doctor services and the capacity of the physician workforce to meet future health care service demand, the release states.
The tool was paid for by a grant from The Physicians Foundation, a national nonprofit that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and facilitate health care delivery.
It’s designed to allow policy-makers, clinicians and health system executives to better understand and address the imbalances in the supply and distribution of physicians.  According to the release, the online application of the model can be customized to display how shortages or surpluses for different types of services at state and sub-state levels will change between 2011 and 2030. The projections could be adapted to take into consideration different policy scenarios like physician retirement rates.
The developers at UNC actively sought and incorporated input from doctors and hospital systems across the country for the system, according to the release
“This model is not intended to provide a single right answer to address physician shortages,” said Erin Fraher, development team leader at the center’s Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy, in a statement. “Our hope is that the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool will reframe how people think about physician supply and demand, and that the data each customized criteria selection yields will help educate and engage stakeholders to create actionable workforce policy at the local and national levels.”