Reclaiming Medicine: The Locum Story of Hospitalist Dr. Brandt

In the Interim: 8 Healthcare Trends in 2023; Recent Reform and Legislation to Improve Access to Care & How AI and Telemedicine Can Help

“In the Interim” is a snapshot of the latest and most relevant news in the locum tenens industry. No repeats, less scrolling, more knowledge. Check out the articles we found most interesting for April’s roundup.   

1. New Legislation Aims to Widen First-Dollar Telehealth Coverage

A group of US representatives and senators have introduced the “Telehealth Expansion Act,” a legislative proposal seeking to expand telehealth access in the US by making permanent a provision that allows Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to access telehealth services without a deductible. The legislation, an extension of the CARES Act, aims to widen first-dollar coverage for telehealth services, which would be particularly beneficial for rural areas that face challenges in accessing healthcare. 

Supporters of the bill argue telehealth has become a critical component of how Americans access healthcare, and limiting its availability would be harmful. This legislation is part of a trend of increasing support for expanding telehealth access in the US, including other bills introduced by US lawmakers in recent months. President Joe Biden signed a spending bill in December 2022 that included a two-year extension of pandemic-era telehealth and hospital-at-home waivers. 

(Xtelligent Healthcare Media, March 30, 2023)   

2. Eight Trends Shaping Global Healthcare in 2023

To celebrate World Health Day on April 7, global leaders reflected on the future of healthcare and its most poignant trends, which include the continued expansion of telemedicine, personalized medicine, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare. There’s also a strong emphasis on social determinants of health, health equity, and community-based care models. Additionally, leaders are exploring the role of innovation, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making in driving improvements in health outcomes and promoting global health security. 

(World Economic Forum, April 5, 2023)     

3. Doctor Shortages Distress Rural America, Where Few Residency Programs Exist 

The rural town of Elko, Nevada, is facing a severe shortage of healthcare professionals, with only 15 physicians for a population of over 50,000. Residents often have to travel long distances for medical care, and local hospitals struggle to attract and retain doctors due to the remote location and lack of resources. The shortage has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with burnout and retirement accelerating among existing providers. This town’s numbers are reflective of a broader trend of physician shortages in rural areas across the United States. 

(CBS News, April 10, 2023)   

4. How Telehealth Is Bridging Gaps and Bringing Healthcare to Underserved Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many healthcare providers to rely more heavily on telehealth and highlighted the technology’s potential to bring healthcare to underserved communities. Telehealth can overcome the physical and financial barriers that have traditionally limited access to healthcare, allowing patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes. However, there are still challenges that must be overcome, including the need for expanded broadband access and reimbursement policies that enable healthcare providers to offer telehealth services. 

(Rebellion Research, April 10, 2023) 

5. What’s at Stake as the US Ends Covid Emergency Measures

The end of the US COVID-19 crisis measures will have significant implications for vaccines, tests, and drugs, as regulatory flexibilities and emergency use authorizations (EUAs) are set to expire. While some experts are concerned about the potential impact on vaccine distribution and testing, others believe that the regulatory changes will encourage the development of more effective treatments and diagnostics. Additionally, the end of the emergency could lead to a shift in focus towards longer-term public health planning and pandemic preparedness. 

(Washington Post, April 10, 2023)   

6. Key Medicare Physician Pay Reform Bill Introduced in Congress

A new Medicare physician pay reform bill, Value in Health Care Act, aims to improve the Medicare payment system for doctors by removing some of the burdensome regulations and requirements of the current system while improving the quality of care provided to patients. The proposed legislation includes provisions to encourage the use of telehealth, increase funding for rural health care, and reward physicians for meeting quality measures. The bill has been praised by physician groups and could have significant impacts on the way Medicare pays for medical services. 

(American Medical Association, April 12, 2023) 

7. How Generative AI can Alleviate Healthcare Challenges and Burnout

The use of generative AI has the potential to alleviate administrative burdens and reduce burnout among healthcare workers. This technology can start to automate repetitive tasks such as coding, scheduling appointments, and managing billing and collections. It can also improve physician-patient communication by customizing vocabulary, overcoming language barriers, and adjusting tone and sentiment. However, it’s important to carefully implement the technology and ensure it only accesses vetted information from trustworthy sources since its responses could be inaccurate or misconstrued.  

(Medical Economics, April 17, 2023)   

8. Physicians May Retire En Masse Soon. What Does That Mean for Medicine?

According to a survey by Elsevier Health, up to 75% of healthcare workers may leave the profession by 2025, while a 2020 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a potential shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. The aging of baby boomer physicians and pandemic burnout have exacerbated physician retirement, potentially leading to a mass exodus of doctors. This could have far-reaching implications for meeting the medical care needs of the US population. Medical leaders express the dire need to reassess recruitment and retention strategies to ensure an adequate supply of physicians to meet the nation’s healthcare needs. 

(Medscape, April 18, 2023)   

9. Healthcare Silver Linings: 21 Hospital Leaders on What’s Worth Celebrating

Hospital leaders from across the United States shared their thoughts on the positive changes coming to healthcare over the next year. From increased telehealth utilization to improvements in supply chain management, these leaders expressed their “silver linings” despite increased burnout and staffing shortages. They also emphasized the importance of celebrating these successes while continuing to address and mitigate these ongoing challenges in healthcare. 

(Becker’s Hospital Review, April 24, 2023)   

That’s it for this month’s edition of In the Interim. Stay tuned for next month’s roundup of newsworthy articles for locum tenens providers. To stay in the loop on future news, follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for our monthly email newsletter for monthly news and job search tips.