RAND, the internationally known think tank, is expected to present the final report on an orthopaedic work force study at the May meeting of the Academy Board of Directors.
The Academy asked RAND to develop computer models to assess market demand for orthopaedic surgeons now and in the future. At the February Board of Directors meeting Bernard Morrey, MD, who chaired a task force on work force issues said preliminary results indicate that if 602 orthopaedic surgeons are trained each year there will be an increasing number of orthopaedic surgeons in the coming years. That projection takes into account the number of orthopaedic surgeons who retire or leave practice.
In order to maintain the current level of orthopaedic surgeons over the next two decades, 485 orthopaedic surgeons should be trained annually. At that rate, a reduction in the number of orthopaedic surgeons in the workforce would not occur until 2015.
The RAND study was authorized by the Board of Directors in December 1995, following a year-long examination of the complex work force issues. This included examination of Academy data and discussions with the Department of Justice, Department of Commerce and with other medical organizations.
RAND is looking at both the demand side and supply side of the equation. Using ICD-9 and CPT-4 codes, RAND organized the range of orthopaedic conditions and procedures into subspecialty and anatomic groups. RAND is using statistics on current demand, which are segmented by the age of the patients, and demographic growth trends to project demand into the future.
A survey of 1,250 Academy fellows asked for information on the time required to treat specific conditions and perform specific procedures. The work-time information will be combined with expected demand for orthopaedic services to produce an estimate of the balance of current and future requirements for orthopaedic surgeons.
To determine available supply, data on the current number of orthopaedic surgeons will be combined with the number of physicians completing orthopaedic residency programs and the number of orthopaedists retiring. RAND also is looking at current utilization patterns and identifying diagnoses that may be treated by other physicians and nonphysicians in the future.
* Year(s) in training
664 residents expected to graduate in 1997
645 residents expected to graduate in 1998