• Heading Off the Primary Care Physician Shortage

    Information provided by Nuance Communications


    In its landmark 2016 study, the Health Resources and Services Administration estimated that, by 2025, 37 states wouldn’t have sufficient physicians to meet demand for primary care. Compounding the problem is an aging population. The number of people aged 65 and older is projected to reach 83.7 million by 2050.

    We must engage with this difficult reality and ask: What can we do now to prevent the shortages?

    Technology can, and must, play a crucial role. One genuinely transformative technology that’s arrived at exactly the right moment is ambient clinical intelligence (ACI). ACI improves access to care and the patient-physician experience, which in turn can help attract a whole new generation to this essential work.

    Improving access to care

    For every hour a physician spends with their patients, they spend another two hours documenting that care. ACI can dramatically lighten this administrative burden. It listens unobtrusively to the conversation—whether in person or via telehealth—and automatically creates a clinical note that’s delivered into the EHR.

    As you might expect, the time savings for the physician can be profound, enabling them to increase patient throughput even while demand grows and the physician workforce shrinks.

    Keeping primary care physicians healthy and motivated

    When primary care physicians spend hours documenting their patient encounters, it’s often at the cost of their own individual wellbeing.

    Forty-six percent of internal medicine physicians and 47% of family medicine physicians surveyed for Medscape’s National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021 reported being burned out. The most common causes were “too many bureaucratic tasks” and “spending too many hours at work.” Burnout, of course, is a problem for physicians and their employers alike, especially with physicians in such short supply.

    While the time savings of faster documentation, enabled by ACI, can be used to improve access to care, it can also be given back to the physician to improve their work-life balance. This, in turn, will contribute to their health, productivity, and motivation to share their experience for many years to come, helping to attract the next generation to primary care.

    Attracting the next generation of primary care physicians

    How often do we hear physicians say, “I didn’t go to medical school to do data entry”? People choose to work in primary care because they want to help people.

    To effectively attract, inspire, and retain physicians, healthcare organizations will need to deliver on the fulfilling, engaging career these physicians have dreamed of.

    Here again, ACI can make a real difference. Freed from the role of notetaker, physicians can give their undivided attention to patients, parents, and caregivers. And because the conversation is captured automatically, the physician’s cognitive load is reduced, helping to ensure no detail is overlooked and bolstering the quality of care and the experience.

    The solution: ACI technology

    Sometimes, a technological breakthrough arrives at the perfect time. AI-driven solutions like ACI are ready to play a powerful part in addressing the projected shortage of primary care physicians and helping to future-proof access to high quality care.


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