The FutureDocs Forecasting Tool estimates the supply of physicians, use of healthcare services, and capacity of physician supply to meet the health care services use for the United States population.

The FutureDocs Forecasting Tool is an interactive, web-based model that estimates the supply of physicians, use of physician services, and capacity of the physician workforce to meet future use of health services at the sub-state, state and national levels.

The tool gives users the ability to display different estimates of supply for various specialties, healthcare services use, and shortages or surpluses for many types of services at different geographic levels between 2013 and 2030. It also provides the option to implement different scenarios, such as the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion provisions; adjust retirement rates and work effort by physicians; and increase the use of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to meet the demand for health care services.

For example, the physician supply sub-model produces estimates of physician supply up to 2030 using information on:   

  • physician demographics, specialty, geographic distribution and full-time equivalents (FTEs) using 2013 as the baseline;
  • resident-in-training demographics, specialty choice, historical patterns of branching and switching between specialties, and geographic location;
  • historical patterns of physician diffusion; and
  • mortality and retirement rates by age and sex.

Prior healthcare workforce models generally have assumed that all physician specialties provide a uniform set of services completely different from the set of services of another specialty. This model, however, reflects the real-world nature of clinical practice, in which physicians in different specialties have overlapping scopes of services. The FutureDocs Forecasting Tool represents the first implementation of the "plasticity" methodology that recognizes this overlap. Plasticity is the idea that there are multiple configurations of physicians able to meet a community's use of health care services.

Source: The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina

More information: 919.966.7112