The FutureDocs Forecasting Tool is the first model to analyze shortages down at a local level, according to the Observer (Price,Charlotte Observer, 7/30). The tool was funded by the Physicians Foundation and UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
The Web-based application incorporates the concept that specialists have overlapping "scopes of practice" to provide a customizable display of physician shortages or surpluses in various locations. It can track and predict changes from 2011 to 2030.
The interactive tool can be adjusted for different scenarios, including:
In addition, the researchers used feedback from physicians and hospital groups to frame the tool's supply and delivery data in the most realistic way possible (UNC press release, 7/30).
Using FutureDocs, researchers found that the physician shortage problem is caused in part by the way doctors are distributed among specialties, rather than a lack of doctors.
Specifically, the researchers found:
The researchers suggested that the tool can be used to:
Lead researcher Erin Fraher said, "Our hope is that the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool will reframe how people think about physician supply and demand" and that it "will help educate and engage stakeholders to create actionable workforce policy at the local and national levels" (EHR Intelligence, 7/30).