The Impact Of Health Information Technology And e-Health On The Future Demand For Physician Services
Author: Jonathan P. Weiner, Susan Yeh, David Blumenthal
Arguably, few factors will change the future face of the American health care workforce as widely and dramatically as health information technology (IT) and electronic health (e-health) applications. We explore how such applications designed for providers and patients will affect the future demand for physicians. We performed what we believe to be the most comprehensive review of the literature to date, including previously published systematic reviews and relevant individual studies. We estimate that if health IT were fully implemented in 30 percent of community-based physicians’ offices, the demand for physicians would be reduced by about 4–9 percent. Delegation of care to nurse practitioners and physician assistants supported by health IT could reduce the future demand for physicians by 4–7 percent. Similarly, IT-supported delegation from specialist physicians to generalists could reduce the demand for specialists by 2–5 percent. The use of health IT could also help address regional shortages of physicians by potentially enabling 12 percent of care to be delivered remotely or asynchronously. These estimated impacts could more than double if comprehensive health IT systems were adopted by 70 percent of US ambulatory care delivery settings. Future predictions of physician supply adequacy should take these likely changes into account.