The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 5, 2013

Mayo, Mankato Clinic prepared for primary care doc shortage

Affordable Care Act will put strain on primary care

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For example, a patient who needs to have hypertension medication checked and adjusted could just as easily see a physician's assistant. Also, they're exploring the possibility of electronic visits.

"It doesn't always have to be that face to face visit," Kowal said.

Added Kutcher, "Before people might call and say, 'I have a sore throat, can I see Dr. Kowal?' And we'd say, 'He's busy, can you see another doctor?' Well, now maybe we'll say “He's busy, but would you mind talking to a nurse? Maybe you won't even have to come in.” A lot of people are OK with that."

About a quarter million primary care doctors work in America now, and the Association of American Medical Colleges projects the shortage will reach almost 30,000 in two years and will grow to about 66,000 in little more than a decade.

The national shortfall can be attributed to a number of factors: The population has both aged and become more chronically ill, while doctors and clinicians have migrated to specialty fields such as dermatology or cardiology for higher pay and better hours.The shortage is especially acute in impoverished inner cities and rural areas, where it already takes many months, years in some cases, to hire doctors, health professionals say.

This report contains information from The Associated Press.

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