HealthLeaders-InterStudy, the leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that there is a relative scarcity of practitioners in central Florida and in the state in general. According to the latest Orlando Market Overview, the Orlando MSA falls below the national average for both physicians and primary-care physicians. This scarcity, combined with physicians' demonstrated willingness to walk away from arrangements they believe are no longer favorable, proves costly to hospitals.
Florida is in the top five states with the most severe shortage of primary-care physicians in terms of meeting future healthcare needs by 2020. "The state is making numerous efforts to address the lack of family doctors, including a new University of Florida College of Medicine," states Jennifer Cameli, HealthLeaders-InterStudy market analyst and author of the report.
The Orlando MSA is home to an estimated 3,689 physicians, including 1,668 primary-care physicians. There are roughly 191 total physicians per 100,000 residents in the area, versus 218 per 100,000 nationally. Florida will need a 63 percent increase in family physicians by the year 2020 in order to meet patient care needs; only Nevada (which needs a 79% increase) and Arizona (which needs a 76% increase) face more severe shortages.
Nemours Children's Clinic-Orlando, whose physicians practice at Orlando Regional's Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, lost more than half of its 56 physicians on staff after it decided to construct a brand new competing children's hospital instead of partnering with Orlando Regional as it had previously told its employees. Most of the physicians who left had previously been in private or autonomous practices, and they cited Nemours' "broken promises" and Palmer's physician-friendly environment as key factors in their decision.
There is an effort underway to address the slump of physicians, starting with the new University of Florida (UFC) College of Medicine. Doctors who complete their residencies in a state are more likely to stay there. The strategy includes admitting Florida high-school seniors to UFC for undergraduate education, then recruiting those students, along with undergrads from other Florida institutions, to the medical school. Nationwide, Florida ranks 46th in the number of residencies for its population, according to reports. New federal legislation introduced in February 2007 could also help. The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act would provide 347 new residency slots in Florida.
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