Trends and solutions for combatting critical care physician shortages.
The increasing lack of intensivists is growing to be a pandemic in the medical industry. In this often over-worked group, Healthcare Global reports that almost half of the 10,000 critical care physicians in the U.S. are facing severe burnout.
Physicians are now choosing less stressful specialties. And as the population ages, more chronic health conditions will require treatment, increase the need for intensivists and drive higher salaries for these specialists. Take a look at some of the trends:
- Intensivists often face complicated cases, long work schedules, too much responsibility and a difficult atmosphere with deathly ill patients. The stress placed on intensivists leaves hospitals unable to fill these roles.
- According to the Society of Critical Care Medicine, up to $13 million in annual hospital cost savings can be realized when care is delivered by an intensivist-directed multi-professional team.
- The average critical care salary in 2018 is $354,000 and has increased by 9 percent this year due to rising demands.
- Due to the shortage, hospitalists have stepped in to fill the gaps; three-quarters of U.S. hospitalists reported treating ICU patients in 2018. Hospitalists are now being trained and provided with educational content to help further develop their critical care skills to better treat ICU patients.
If an organization is lacking an intensivist in the building, a patient can still get access to an intensivist via telehealth. Electronic systems connect ICU patient data with intensivists to treat patients in remote locations, which has been proven to shorten ICU length of stays and lower ICU mortality. Using telehealth for ICU patients as a solution to the shortage could lower costs for hospitals.
Sources: ACP Hospitalist, Annals of Emergency Medicine, Healthcare Global, Medscape, Society of Critical Care Medicine, The Hospitalist.
The tug-of-war over ICU care.
Some facilities are managing the demand for intensivists by turning to hospitalists to care for most ICU patients and focusing the efforts of pulmonologists only on the sickest patients.