Healthcare News and Trends
The Top 10 Physician Trends in 2020
January 15, 2020
By Debra Wood, contributor
medicine is never boring, yet the pace of change in recent years has been
beyond most practitioners’ expectations. Technology innovations, regulatory
mandates, workforce challenges and personal stressors—there is always something
to keep a doctor on his or her toes.
can physicians expect to see in 2020?
things that experts can agree on is that medicine remains an in-demand
profession in an ever-changing health care system. Let’s take a look at some of
the trends they predict will affect physicians practicing medicine in 2020 and
Want a new place to practice in
2020? Browse thousands of
10 key trends
affecting physicians in 2020
1. Physician shortages will
The Association of American
Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that by 2032, the demand for physicians will
exceed supply by as many as 121,900 full-time equivalent physicians. In large
part, this is due to the growth in the number of older adults, who use more
health care. Even more concerning, an additional 95,900 doctors would be needed
immediately in the U.S. if utilization patterns were equalized.
That demand will lead to more
opportunities for individual jobseekers, including new physicians who are
fielding dozens of job offers, according to the 2019
Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents by Merritt Hawkins.
2. Employment vs. ownership opportunities
American Medical Association reported in 2019 that for the first time, more
physicians are employees rather than owners of a practice. This physician trend
is expected to continue. For instance, Orlando Health in Florida recently
purchased the 30-physician practice of Jewett Orthopaedic, also in Orlando.
Modern Healthcare reported last year
that some physicians are leaving hospital employment and striking out on their
own, and Forbes indicated an increase
in private equity investments in specialty practices.
3. Specialists needed
Recruiters report that the
demand for physician specialists continues to increase, a fact that is
reflected in Merritt Hawkins’ comprehensive salary and job market report, the 2019
Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.
had more recruiting assignments for specialists than primary care physicians
this past year. Shortages are occurring in surgery, psychiatry, geriatrics,
infectious disease and other specialties.
expects a shortage of up to 67,000 specialists by 2032.
4. Increases in physician
in many specialties earned more in 2018/2019 than in 2017/2018, according to
the Merritt Hawkins report.
expect demand to remain strong in 2020, and that health systems and group
practices will continue to raise salaries and benefits to attract the best and brightest
physicians,” said Tom Florence, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins.
out the year-to-year starting
salary comparisons for the top 20 specialties recruited.
5. Value-based care
fee-for-service reimbursement for medical care continues to dominate, health
care will evolve to embrace more value-based care, said Amel Hammad, MBA, MHA,
managing director of the consulting firm Conway MacKenzie in Chicago. That will
lead to fewer battles with insurers, because the physician or group will have consistent
“The risk will be put on the provider through capitated
payments, for example, managed with per-member, per-month payments, with
incentives focused on positive outcomes,” Hammad said. “As such, it is
imperative that cost containment occur, costs to provide care be lowered, and
measures are taken to track and maximize care.”
Among organizations offering
physicians a production bonus last year, 56 percent were based in whole or in
part on value-based metrics, such as patient satisfaction and outcome measures—up
from 43 percent the previous year, according to the 2019 Merritt Hawkins
Successfully adapting to
value-based care will require more team care, with patients meeting with a dietician,
a physician therapist or other professionals who can deliver expertise at a
lower cost, Hammad explained.
Additionally, “for individuals
who are comfortable with technology, these interactions and encounters can
happen through other methodologies, such as telephone, Skype, instant messaging
and others,” Hammad said.
6. Virtual visits
care is a driver of telehealth,
but not the only one. Physicians in 2020 will provide more care remotely. Patients
want the convenience of televisits, which they can conduct on a mobile device.
will win back patients who deserted them for convenient retail clinics and
urgent care centers by providing convenient care, for instance, through secure,
web-based portals; mobile clinics offering primary and preventative care
services; extended office hours; and online scheduling,” said Samant Virk, MD,
CEO and co-founder of MediSprout, which offers a secure virtual video product.
helping form tighter connections and improve communications, tech will enable
patient-centric care that addresses not only the immediate, but the ongoing and
long-term needs of patients,” Virk continued.
7. Patient self-monitoring
are tracking their own health with apps and wearables, such as the Apple Watch,
a trend not likely to abate. All that information flows to physicians to
interpret and act on, if needed.
“This ‘consumerization of healthcare’ will expand, finding
its place in the clinical care setting,” said Rich Loomis, MD, chief informatics
officer, clinical solutions at Elsevier. “And, as the adoption of collaborative
patient–physician tools continue to see an uptick, health systems will realize
the positive impacts on the patient–physician relationship.”
8. Integrative care
also are the driving force behind the growth of complementary and alternative
medicine. More physicians also are expressing interest in the field.
“2020 will be the year that patients actively seek
integrative care rather than rely on pills,” said Michele Renee, DC, MAc,
director of integrative care at Northwestern Health Sciences University in
Bloomington, Minnesota. “Patients are becoming savvier about the risks of
pharmaceuticals. In the past, patients visited doctors for pills to relieve
their symptoms, but now there is demand to get to the root of their health
problems through better understanding what is happening and making
necessary lifestyle changes.”
9. Big data to improve outcomes
an overwhelming amount of data and using artificial intelligence (AI) and
predictive analytics is a physician trend for 2020 that is designed to drive
value, yet it remains underused, said John Danaher, global president of
clinical solutions at Elsevier.
technology allows physicians to standardize data and make more informed decisions
at the point of care, Danaher explained. “Quality of care will increase and
variability of care will decrease, leading to cost reductions for both patients
and health systems. Empowering
the clinical team with AI technology tools at the point of care will not only
improve patient outcomes, but reduce traditional inefficiencies – like
paperwork and data entry – for the managing care team.”
10. Precision medicine
in 2020 can expect to deliver more exact medicine with the growth of precision
medicine beyond cancer, in which genetic information is used to customize
cancer treatments, said Olaf Lodbrok, senior vice president and general manager
of precision medicine, clinical solutions at Elsevier.
“The power of precision medicine
will lead the charge in opening a paradigm shift toward other areas of medicine
and we will continue to see this impact through 2020,” Lodbrok said.
medicine in 2020 and the years that follow will require some flexibility, risk
taking and a willingness to try new technologies to improve patient outcomes.
innovative tools at our disposal and adopting new ways of thinking will help to
forge stronger relationships, build more efficient businesses, and deliver better
care for our patients,” Virk concluded.
Trends to Watch in 2019
Key Telehealth Trends in 2019
MERRITT HAWKINS continues
to shape the future of physician recruitment and staffing with innovative
workforce solutions that benefit both candidates and hiring organizations.
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