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February 4, 2021

The Future of Anesthesiology: How Anesthesiologist and CRNA Shortages Are Making an Impact

February 4, 2021

Anesthesiologists and CRNAs are among the most sought-after specialties in the medical field. As healthcare demands are increasing and the supply of qualified physicians decreases, the future of anesthesiology is fraught with discussions surrounding the direction of the industry. As with many other healthcare professionals, the pandemic of 2020 has also provided another degree of variability in anesthesia providers’ supply and demand. 

How the Pandemic Has Affected Healthcare

Most individuals are familiar with the growing concerns regarding staff and supply shortages during the height of the pandemic. Demand for family physicians, nurse practitioners, emergency medicine physicians, infectious disease specialists, and critical care physicians skyrocketed. As for anesthesia providers, the decrease in elective procedures -- due to the urgency of virus-related cases -- reduced the necessity for these specialists in what were previously some of the most common surgeries. 

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An Aging Profession and Travel Bans 

In recent years, there has been a consistent shortage of anesthesiologists, in large part due to these professionals starting retirement significantly earlier than other specialized doctors. More recently, travel bans and restrictions have deterred international anesthesiologists from traveling to the US to work. Even when the presidential administration’s travel bans were not yet in effect, this was still a consideration that left many anesthesiologists opting out of job opportunities abroad

Future Demand for Anesthesiology 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortfall of almost 140,000 physicians by 2033, with around 12,500 of them being anesthesiologists. CRNA shortages are also predicted, especially in rural hospitals, where the demand for anesthesia services isn’t as strong as other areas. There are currently around 45,000 CRNAs in the US, and this number is predicted to reach 52,700 by 2028. 

Population aging is another relevant factor. The increasing median age will impact demand, as persons above 60 years of age visit the doctor three times as much as those half their age and younger. Elective surgeries, although temporarily halted during the pandemic, are becoming increasingly popular. Even with an unemployment rate of less than 1% and an above-average growth rate, the demand is expected to exceed the needs that anesthesiology professionals can meet. 

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Alternative Solutions for Healthcare Facilities 

With the growing demand for anesthesia services, many healthcare facilities may consider alternative staffing solutions, such as on-demand models, outsourcing, and locum tenens (temporary) CRNAs. Not only will this help hospitals and other facilities get the anesthesia services they need, but it will also reduce healthcare spending, since they are only paying for the demand that their facility incurs. 

Regardless of how these healthcare facilities approach staffing, the three most important considerations in future resource management are planning, flexibility, and billing. By analyzing their demand and making strategic decisions based on these needs, healthcare facilities will be better equipped to handle the changes that the industry may experience. Flexibility is also essential, as rapid adaptation to changes will help these providers stay consistent in meeting patient needs. Lastly, as healthcare facilities opt for new -- or even familiar -- staffing methods, accurate anesthesia billing is the key to remaining efficient and maximizing anesthesia revenue.


Experts in Anesthesia Billing 

At Medical Business Management, we are in the business of making our clients’ anesthesia billing process more manageable, whether they choose in-house services, outsourcing, or utilize an anesthesiology group. Our expertise helps your facility get the most revenue back from your anesthesia services, saving you both time and money. For a free consultation, contact us! 

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