This article is written exclusively for Mr. Thorn in Europe. George Mathew, fourth-year medical student at Previn Medical University. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA) and is a gracious partner of The Sting. The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor the views of the European Stinger.
Medical workers are the backbone of healthcare systems, and the recent Covid-19 pandemic has shown us exactly that by highlighting disparities in demand for quality healthcare and the lack of frontline healthcare workers even in the most developed countries.
The latest AAMC report shows that by 2034, the U.S. physician shortage is estimated to be between 37,800 and 124,000.
The BMA’s analysis of OECD data shows the UK has just 2.9 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, below the EU average of 3.7 per 1,000 inhabitants.
The main reasons for the shortage of medical personnel are:
- Low growth rate of medical staff
- Increased absenteeism due to stress, depression and other mental health issues
- Ageing workforce – 13% of secondary care doctors and 18% of GPs in the NHS will reach the minimum retirement age within the next 10 years.
- Doctors retire early due to various reasons such as increased workload and stress.
- Fewer medical school and medical graduates and fewer hospitalization points have become a bottleneck in the United States.
This disparity between the healthcare workforce and people’s medical needs is most pronounced during times of increased stress on the healthcare infrastructure, but the effects of this deficit persist, such as:
- Morbidity and mortality have increased within the healthcare system due to reduced patient safety and doctor-patient interaction.
- low quality of care
- Passing increased healthcare costs to patients
- The increased workload of healthcare providers leads to more burnout and a tendency to retire early, fueling a vicious cycle.
One of the ways to alleviate the gap in the healthcare workforce is through technological advancements taking place in the field of medicine:
- Telemedicine: This is a model of medical practice where doctors and patients are in two different locations, providing medical care remotely. This helps address the regional shortage of medical professionals that often occurs in rural areas.
- Electronic Health Records: These are digitized medical charts that help collect and share digital health information at all stages of a patient’s life. It helps healthcare professionals understand all relevant information from one source to make more effective medical decisions.
- Artificial Intelligence: The potential of artificial intelligence in medicine is certain, but what it can offer now is of course helping radiologists and other healthcare professionals read radiology images, thereby reducing their workload and increasing their efficiency.
- Blockchain-enabled career document verification platform: Healthcare employers and recruiters can conduct more efficient and secure reviews of potential candidates’ documents from overseas. This can significantly reduce processing time for potential candidates and increase the workforce.
Technology can help address the current crisis of labor shortages in the healthcare system and prevent unnecessary loss of life.
About the author
George Mathew is a fourth-year medical student at Previn Medical University. Originally from Kerala, India, he is currently studying medicine in Pleven, Bulgaria.
He is a member of the Previn Standing Committee on Human Rights and Peace (SCORP) and is passionate about issues such as modern war crimes, the influence of corporations on government decision-making, climate change, and the movement of migrants and refugees. He is also the current ambassador to Pleven (Bulgaria) for the European Student Think Tank.