As our society ages, our healthcare industry is adapting to accommodate an aging population and educate the people who will be providing that care.
Increasingly, it appears that two areas within the American Board of medical Specialties which will experience growth are : Podiatry Practices and the presence of physicians specializing in hospital medicine (Hospitalists).
The Podiatrists Market Research Report states that demand for podiatrists will likely benefit from healthcare reform.
There will be Subsidies to help those with low incomes gain coverage, increasing the number of insured patients. As the number of insured patients increases, demand increases for all services, perhaps, especially podiatry.
Additionally, industry demand for treatment of foot and ankle ailments will be aided by the rising incidence of diabetes as well as the aging US population.
An increase in the number of people living in medical homes, nursing facilities and/or spending time in hospitals is increasing. So, of course will the number of trained professionals staffing them. And, as the growth in the specialty happens, there will almost certainly be an increase in the number of podiatric malpractice claims or allegations of negligence.
The specialty is growing, so look for an increase in the number of claims:
According to Midwestern University, in a study on the Demographics Associated with Podiatric Medicine; there are approximately 14,000 licensed podiatrists in the United States. Over the next eight to ten years, many podiatrists will reach retirement age and leave practice. In recent years, class sizes of most programs in the country have been much smaller, and, ultimately, of course, there are fewer podiatrists entering practice.
Back in 1999, projections from the American Podiatric Medical Association indicated that there are areas in the country where the population is growing and the need for Podiatrists is increasing quickly: areas like: Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona are at a low for the needed number of Podiatrists in their areas, the metropolitan areas. and, with the reports of aging populations, there is a rise in the need for these areas to be serviced.
Further statistics which support the growth of this specialty: surveys reveal that most common foot problems are still treated as often by non podiatrists, and /or, patients just go untreated.
Again, ultimately this behavior creates demand for the specialty, as those who receive favorable care from the specialty will seek out the proper care.
A recent study by Health Affairs suggested that the United States will be facing a shortage of physicians. The forecast was based upon two findings. First was that previous population predictions for the United States have underestimated growth by 10 percent. Second, the number of hours worked by physicians is estimated to decline by 20 percent. Thus, the shortage of physicians will become severe, and they predict a deficit of 200,000 physicians by 2020. This same logic applies to the podiatry profession.
Podiatrists will be an integral part of treating the Diabetes Epidemic.
The Podiatry market is expected to grow by about 20 % by 2020. Over 80 % of hospitals have a Podiatrist on staff, that is expected to grow this coming year. in one year, between June and July ’12 and ’13, approximately 55 % of the elderly population, aged 60 or older sought podiatric care.
Insurance Carriers are expanding their coverage in this class of business to gain an edge over competition. The big companies: The Doctors’ Company, Medical Protective, Beazley and PICA have increased rates from 6 – 12 % in 2012.
Retail Urgent Care and Foot Care:
There is a growth in the retail foot clinics throughout the country and podiatrists should make sure they understand the difference between a clinic liability policy and an independent Podiatrist liability policy: with clinical care being pushed at the front line to the ancillary healthcare practitioners, Nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, it is likely that Podiatrists will experience the same phenomena. There are economies of scale achieved when the physicians and Podiatrists can effectively use allied and ancillary healthcare providers. These clinic policies can be written on a hybrid form basis: the allied healthcare providers can share the limit with the entity, while the physicians can enjoy elements of an occurrence policy giving them the flexibility to cancel without generating a tail encumbrance on the policy; but the pricing can resemble more of a scaled back claims made premium.
Quality Risk management Support for Podiatrists:
Podiatrists already receive favorable rating and customized risk management services from The Doctors’ Company.
as the endorsed Carrier of the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine; the expansion of services, The Doctors’ Company has acquired expertise in many specialties, gathering information and conducting surveys, gathering data and sharing peer review information designed to improve the practice of all Podiatrists.
These facilities, hospitals and specialties like Podiatry will invest more in teaching to treat elderly without increasing claims. One of the methods that one hospital is using in order to reduce the incidence of claims is a game, called Septris;
Septris was developed by a multidisciplinary group of physicians, educational specialists, and programmers. The Hospitalist Magazine reports this month that the game offers a case-based interactive learning environment using evidence-based treatment algorithms. Physicians and nurses using the tool/game will make treatment decisions and watch as the patient’s condition, the outcome either rises or declines. The game’s rapid pace underscores the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Games, attention to risk management and studies like the one recently published by the Journal of Hospital Medicine: Society of Hospital Medicine: 2013 Abstracts states that attention to the usual basics of communication, documentation and carefully followed protocol will reduce the likelihood of claims:
Many claims were identified in which a hospitalist was the attending of record. The claims were analyzed to ascertain the main allegation, contributing factors, and outcomes: 272 claims; these claims covered the period from 1997 to 2011.
The mean age of the claimants was 56 years (SD, 22 years). The most common claims were related to allegations of errors in medical treatment, diagnosis, and medication use. The most common factors contributing to the claims were issues relating to clinical judgment, communication and documentation.