Rand researchers are not quite so pessimistic as most experts when it comes to assessing whether there will be enough primary care providers in the future. “Projections suggest that if nothing changes in the delivery of primary care, the United States may face a substantial shortage of primary care physicians and surpluses of nurse practitioners and physician assistants by 2025,” says a Rand study in the November issue of Health Affairs. “Yet plausible shifts in primary care delivery models substantially affect those projections.”
One such shift, say the authors, would be an increase in care delivered at nurse-managed primary care health centers. “Expanding the prevalence of the nurse-managed health center in primary care by only a relatively modest amount could greatly diminish expected provider imbalances.”
State scope-of-practice laws would need to be adjusted to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to do more without physician supervision.
Primary care providers, 2010 and 2025
Source: “Nurse-Managed Health Centers and Patient-Centered Medical Homes Could Mitigate Expected Primary Care Physician Shortage,” Health Affairs, November 2013