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When Demand Exceeds Supply

Older patients and fewer physicians in workers’ comp
By: | November 2, 2019

The American workforce is getting older, including the people we count on for care — physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

Over 50% of U.S. physicians are over the age of 50 and one third will be over the age of 65 in the next decade. The average nurse age is now 51 and both physicians and nurses are leaving the profession faster than they can be replaced.

Impact on Workers’ Comp

As the average age of all workers is rising, so is the average age of injured workers. And these populations sometimes require more complex treatment, which can mean higher medical costs and increased compensable time. A shortage of physicians will likely result in higher fees and longer wait times, which could lead to compromised care for patients.

The risks of higher costs and suboptimal care exists in all of healthcare, but the threat is greater in worker’s comp due to:

  • A highly regulated environment with stringent requirements for provider qualifications, timely access to care, and patient choice
  • Limited ability to mitigate physician shortages through technological innovations, such as telemedicine, due to reimbursement issues and outdated workers’ comp legislation
  • Severe shortage of occupational medicine physicians
  • Increased care complexity due to high pain management needs
  • Longer claim durations and delayed return-to-work times resulting from increased wait times
  • Severe provider shortages in rural areas that already pose coverage challenges

The aging workforce combined with a shortage of healthcare providers is a double challenge for workers’ compensation payers, which can only be met by employing the right strategies with the right partners.

Click here to read the full article: When Demand Exceed Supply: Older patients and fewer physicians in workers’ comp to learn more.

Healthesystems is a leading provider of Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) & Ancillary Benefits Management programs for the workers' compensation industry.

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