Doctors in greater numbers in the United States are entering the nursing home care field, which could indicate a trend toward the specialty as the U.S. population ages.
Of the doctors who do any work in nursing homes, 21% specialize in nursing home care, according to a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Nursing home specialists are defined as those clinicians billing at least 90% of their patient caseload from a nursing home.
Doctors: Incoming Nursing Home Stats
The number of nursing home specialists increased from 5,127 in 2012 to 6,857 in 2015, a gain of 33%. Adjusting for patient population revealed that the number of nursing home specialists per 1,000 occupied beds rose from 3.35 in 2012 to 4.6 in 2015, an increase of 36%.
In addition, the overall total number of clinicians who billed from nursing homes numbered 33,218 in 2012, compared to 33,087 in 2015.
It may be too soon to call the rise of nursing home specialists a bona fide trend, but the rate of increase gained steam starting in 2014.
Of interest, patients who enter nursing homes for short periods have different needs from those of long-term care residents. The former could see their care fragmented as they move from hospital to SNF to home. For example, short-term nursing home patients could lose more of their connection with a primary care doctor.
On the other hand, a long-term care resident, will benefit if there’s a staff physician or clinician specializing in nursing home care.