Silicon Valley Faces Possible Doctor Shortage, Business Journal Says
With starting salaries lagging behind the cost of living in Silicon Valley, it is "becoming more commonplace" for medical groups, hospitals and small physician practices to have difficulty recruiting new doctors, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. For instance, 95% of 371 Santa Clara County physicians said they had problems recruiting new doctors, according to a recent Santa Clara County Medical Association survey. Dr. Bernadette Loftus, physician chief at Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center, said, "I can't hire physicians fast enough to take care of (patients). We are really seeing a physician shortage, especially in the South Bay area." Part of the problem is that "managed care has put a tight lid on physician salaries" because of low reimbursements, the Business Journal reports. For example, a new OB/GYN makes $120,000 per year in California, compared to $140,977 in the Midwest.
In addition, new doctors experience difficulty finding affordable housing in the valley. To "lure" new doctors, some hospitals are offering signing bonuses to help physicians "buy into the local market," the Business Journal reports. Some health care experts say "it's not time to panic yet," as the valley "has more than enough physicians" right now. But without "dramatic action," the valley "faces a potential crisis in health care that will affect not only the quality of care in the next 10 years and beyond, but whether there will be enough doctors to make care available," the Business Journal reports. Physicians and hospital executives have called on managed care companies to "participate in finding solutions" to the shortage.
Dr. Joseph Aita, medical director for Lifeguard Inc., one of the area's largest health plans, suggested that managed care companies could "help recruit physicians by partnering with medical groups and funneling patients to new recruits" (May, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 4/16).