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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Demographic Storm: Don't plan on getting cancer in the future. There won't be anyone to treat you:

    The graying of America will swell the number of cancer patients and survivors 55% by 2020, according to a study that suggests doctors may not be able to cope with the additional burden.

    The analysis, published online Tuesday in the Journal of Oncology Practice, says the number of Americans who are diagnosed with cancer — both those in treatment and those who have finished therapy — will grow to 18.2 million, up from 11.7 million in 2005. Today, about one in 26 Americans have had cancer. By 2020, roughly one in 19 will have been diagnosed with the disease, says Edward Salsberg, an author of the study from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Center for Workforce Studies. Researchers based their analysis on data from the National Cancer Institute.

    ....More than half of medical oncologists are over 50 and could retire soon, the report shows. Though there are more than enough younger doctors to replace them, these new doctors still won't be able to keep up with the demand. Younger oncologists also tend to see fewer patients and are often more interested than older doctors in balancing work and family life, the report says. By 2020, the country could face a shortage of up to 4,000 cancer specialists.

    It won't just be cancer, as this blog has frequently opined. All of the disease of aging - heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, cancer, kidney disease - will be the rise at the same moment that the number of doctors available to treat them will be on the decline. Add to that the movement toward concierge and micropractice models that allow a doctor to assume responsibility for only a small number of patients and it doesn't bode well for the future of the public's health.

    posted by Sydney on 3/15/2007 10:10:00 PM 1 comments


    All the more reason to automate, automate, automate. It's possible to reduce the need for doctors by weeding out the "simple" problems so that they can be handled by less trained treaters. If you can reduce charting time, create a less bureaucratic process, and reduce all the other distractions that impact the vital part of the process (seeing patients) and you will reduce the need to import physicians to fill the gap. We're too rich to really feel a shortage. We can always relax our import standards. The excess dead will be living in the 3rd world, the marginal countries whose brain drain (often to the countries where we're actually getting our own foreign docs from) isn't fixable by importing from lower down on the chain. They're the end of the chain and it's their people who will suffer most.

    By Blogger TM, at 8:45 AM  

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