Data suggests a US doctor shortage is on the horizon. What does it mean for Delaware? - Delaware


Apr. 11, 2019 5:32 pm

Data suggests a US doctor shortage is on the horizon. What does it mean for Delaware?

Will Delaware's supply of physicians keep up with the demand over the next decade?

A doctor's hands.

(Photo by Flickr user Spanish Virtually, used under a Creative Commons license)

There could be U.S. physician shortage of more than 120,000 by 2030 — which means that, in some states, access to medical care may become increasingly difficult over the next decade, even with health insurance.

Some states will fare better than others, The Senior List (TSL) predicts in a newly released study that looks at data for all 50 states and the District of Colombia.

Delaware fares pretty well, ranked at #46 for likelihood of physician shortfalls in the coming years (in this case, a higher number is good, as the “top ranked” are those with the highest risk).

So, in other words, TSL’s data analysis found that Delaware is projected as the sixth best state to live in, in terms of having enough physicians in 2030.

Looking at it from an industry perspective, it makes sense: Healthcare is one of the top industries in the state, with Christiana Care employing more Delawareans than any other employer but the State of Delaware itself. And Christiana Care keeps growing, with a new Center for Women and Children’s Health currently under construction on the Christiana Hospital campus, scheduled to open in spring 2020. Nemours has recently upgraded its residency program, and Beebe Healthcare is planning a new specialty surgical hospital in Rehoboth, a new cancer care center in Millville, and a new heart and vascular center in Lewes.

Delaware’s physician population, according to the data, is 278.3, just below the 283 per 100,000 baseline that TSL says is needed to create balance between supply and demand. So, while Delaware is not one of the six states above the baseline, it doesn’t fall into the “dangerously below the current baseline,” either.


The baseline increases over time with population. In 2020, it will jump to 291.

Another metric is percentage of physicians 60+, or nearing retirement age. For Delaware, that number is 28.5%, which is among the 10 states with the lowest percentage.

When it comes to residents and fellows in accredited programs, Delaware has 37.7 per 100,00 people, putting it above the median of 28.

Other factors include population growth, including the fact that people are living longer, and healthcare affordability.

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