2008 Industry Outlook
Stretched thin: The Florida Medical Association pleads for more residency programs.
The TrendsContinuing problem with uninsured patients (estimated at one in four patients under 65 in Florida)
Rising emergency room visits — up to 7.3 million in 2005
Increased interest among many hospitals in telemedicine. Creating communication links with physicians through teleconferences would
allow patients to consult a physician while holding down costs
Effort to get state legislators to allow automatic enrollment in an employer’s health plan
Continuing shortage of nurses
“There’s competition around the country for doctors,” Altenburger says. “In Florida, doctors are losing money to see these patients, so the question becomes ‘why come to Florida?’ ”
Another issue is Florida’s three strikes malpractice law, the only such law in the country. Altenburger says although the law has never been applied, other states use it when recruiting physicians. “On average, neurosurgeons are sued every other year. Why take a chance? Two strikes, and I’m gone. You can’t afford to lose your license.”
Lynne Takacs, director of communications and press relations for the FMA, says there’s a bill currently in the works to give sovereign immunity to physicians working in emergency rooms.
“We have to make Florida a friendly environment for physicians,” Takacs says.
10 Most Common Reasons
for Hospital Admission
|Gastrointestinal & digestive disorders||
|Hip & knee replacement||
|Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease||
|Top 10 as a percent of total discharges||
|Source: Florida Hospital Association, 2006|
Hospitals are increasing their efforts at conserving resources, says Rich Rasmussen, vice president for strategic communication for the Florida Hospital Association.
“We’ve had in-depth discussions, and we’re looking at recycling programs that are much more aggressive in dealing with biohazardous waste,” Rasmussen says. “We’re also looking at fuel cell technology for hospitals.” The FMA is also working with doctors in rural areas to implement electronic medical records. Some doctors in larger cities already use EMR, but physicians in smaller communities are more likely to use paper records. “We think it will save considerable resources,” says Lynne Takacs, director of communications and press relations for the FMA.