Demand for diabetes, thyroid care outpaces supply of endocrinologists

June 18, 2014

As more people are diagnosed with diabetes and other hormone conditions, a growing shortage of endocrinologists could force patients to wait longer to see a doctor, according to a new Endocrine Society workforce analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. They specialize in treating , obesity, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, adrenal diseases, and a variety of other conditions related to hormones.

The analysis found the available supply of endocrinologists who treat adult will exceed the growing demand for their services for at least the next 10 years. As the population ages, the number of older individuals who develop type 2 diabetes or other endocrine conditions is expected to climb. In addition, a significant portion of current endocrinologists are Baby Boomers likely to retire in the next decade.

"There already is a significant shortage of adult endocrinologists. Without a concerted effort to recruit more endocrinologists, the gap between the number of endocrinologists and the demand for their care will increase even further and patients will struggle to get the care they need," said Endocrine Society Past President Robert A. Vigersky, MD, one of the study's authors. "The analysis found the number of new entrants to the workforce must grow at a rate of 14 percent a year to close the gap in five years. Improved reimbursement rates that reflect the true value of endocrinologists' care are required to encourage more physicians to choose endocrinology as a specialty."

The researchers developed the endocrinologist workforce model using data from proprietary and public databases. The Society conducted an online survey of board-certified endocrinologists and convened a Technical Expert Panel to provide additional data.

The analysis found there is currently a shortage of about 1,500 adult and 100 pediatric full-time endocrinologists nationwide. The demand for pediatric endocrinologists is expected to be met by 2016 as the workforce grows. The gap between supply and demand for adult endocrinologists, however, is expected to remain the same or grow worse as more people are diagnosed with endocrine conditions.

This could lead to longer wait times for patients seeking appointments. The Society's survey found the average wait time for adults making a non-urgent appointment with an endocrinologist was 37 days in 2012. The average wait remained unchanged from 1999, despite a 52 percent increase in the number of board-certified endocrinologists serving adults.

One factor that discourages physicians from specializing in endocrinology is compensation rates. Since much of the care they provide is not based around specific procedures, endocrinologists tend to earn less than their counterparts in specialties such as noninvasive cardiology and gastroenterology.

The analysis also revealed significant changes in the demographics of the endocrinology field. A growing number of women are entering the specialty, and many Baby Boomers will be retiring by 2020. The next generation of endocrinologists also are working fewer hours and seeing fewer patients in an average week than their predecessors.

"Like professionals in other industries, endocrinologists are seeking work-life balance," Vigersky said. "This trend means even more trained endocrinologists are required to serve the growing patient population."

Explore further: AACE issues top five 'Choosing Wisely' recommendations

More information: The study, "The Clinical Endocrinology Workforce: Current Status and Future Projections of Supply and Demand," was published online, ahead of print.

Related Stories

AACE issues top five 'Choosing Wisely' recommendations

October 21, 2013
(HealthDay)—The top five endocrinology-related issues that physicians and patients should question have been released by The Endocrine Society and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) as part of the ...

First clinical diabetes registry to provide seamless view of patients across specialties

June 10, 2014
The American College of Cardiology, in partnership with the American Diabetes Association, the American College of Physicians and Joslin Diabetes Center, is launching the Diabetes Collaborative Registry, the first clinical ...

Medical societies respond to the FDA's safety announcement on the use of Actos

June 16, 2011
Diabetes leaders today are responding to the announcement made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday that the use of the diabetes medication Actos (pioglitazone) for more than one year may be associated ...

Study finds important differences in the way clinicians understand and treat early menopause after breast cancer

August 13, 2013
Hormonal treatment for breast cancer causes menopause in over 80% of women in the first year of therapy, but now new research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Climacteric, has found that how these women are diagnosed ...

First-ever guidelines issued for treating type 2 diabetes in kids

January 28, 2013
(HealthDay)—For the first time ever, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes in children and teenagers aged 10 to 18.

Recommended for you

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.