UCSF Researchers ‘Stand By’ Study Finding No Physician Shortage
Despite "sharp criticism" from physicians, University of California-San Francisco researchers continue to "stand by" their study released last month that found "no evidence" of a doctor shortage and indicated that more doctors are moving into California now than in the past six years, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports. Using data from the American Medical Association, the study determined that the state's physician-patient ratio grew from 177 doctors per 100,000 residents in 1994 to 190 physicians per 100,000 last year. Bram Briggance, associate director of UCSF's California Workforce Initiative, said, "We've received many calls and a lot of angry letters. We were surprised ourselves with the data because we had heard about physician shortages." He added, "The results don't mean that people aren't experiencing a problem. The problems being raised are not related to a lack of physicians, but the distribution and utilization of physicians. Are there physician shortages? Absolutely. Are there enough physicians coming to California? Absolutely." Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation, which funded the study, said, "Is it [the study] perfect? No. But it's the best evidence we have right now."
But Jack Lewin, CEO of the California Medical Association, said, "I'm uncomfortable with this study because it leads everyone to complacency on this issue, and that's dangerous. We believe we are going to have a crisis in physician supply in two years if we don't take steps to prevent it." Lewin called data used by UCSF researchers "old" and "outdated." He added that the medical association supports a new bill that would require physicians to provide details about their practices, including the number of patients. The medical association also is organizing a one-day conference to address issues surrounding physician recruitment (May, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 4/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.