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Emerging Specialties in Medicine
The medical world evolves constantly, largely in anticipation and response to the needs of the people this industry serves. This is what gives rise to new specialties.
For instance, an aging population, advances in medical technology, the need for less expensive treatment, and a larger focus on preventative care mean certain medical specialties will emerge and play an essential role. Healthcare facilities must stay on top of these changes — and prepare accordingly.
Here’s a rundown of the top emerging specialties in medicine and how hospitals can ensure they have the right strategy in place to navigate these developments.
Emerging Medical Specialties to Look Out For
Discussed here are both fast-growing specialties and new or relatively new specialties. Healthcare facilities should familiarize themselves with these specialties so they can more effectively find experts to fill such positions.
Consider this: “The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060,” according to the Population Reference Bureau. What this indicates is a growing need for those that specialize in the care of older people.
There is already a shortage of geriatricians, the Academic Medicine notes. This only further points out this is one specialty that will expand in the coming future — simply out of necessity.
The Pew Research Center projects the US population will be at 438 million by 2050, up from 327 million in 2018. Combine that with the looming physician shortage, and healthcare facilities will have to look for ways to fill gaps in treatment.
This is precisely why physician assistants (PAs) are increasing in popularity (PA job positions jumped 39 percent in 2017). Physician assistants, who are licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases, provide valuable support to doctors and lessen the overall burden of the system.
Hospitalists are generally trained in internal medicine and manage patient care while they’re at the hospital, sort of functioning like a primary care physician. Hospitalists also work with other healthcare experts seeing the patient to make the best decisions.
Hospitalists actually decrease costs by 13-20 percent and reduce the length of stay by 17-30 percent, the Journal of the American Medical Association notes. Considering lowering costs, enhancing the patient experience, and improving outcomes remain important issues for hospitals, having a dedicated clinician to manage patient care can make all the difference.
Sports Medicine Physician
The global sports medicine market is expanding at 8.9 percent annually and is expected to reach a nearly $35 billion market value by 2024, according to Data Bridge Market Research. This can be attributed to the rising interest in physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices, as well as the need for more specialized care for athletes.
Though there aren’t formal residency programs for sports medicine yet, many physicians are entering the field. Look for a clearer definition and certifications to come in the near future.
Another relatively new specialty, emergency medicine is defined by the American College of Emergency Physicians as “the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury.” This specialty requires a deep knowledge of the healthcare delivery network, from surgery to psychiatric services.
As a publication in the US National Library of Medicine states, emergency physicians started to become a specialty in their own right a few decades ago. The field has a current growth rate of 9 percent— a trend that’s expected to continue considering that emergency physicians are becoming a safety net for the entire healthcare system.
How Healthcare Facilities Can Prepare for Emerging Specialties
Hospitals must learn more about the emerging specialties — especially the new ones — if they are to set themselves up for long-term success.
The solution for healthcare facilities is to deploy hiring resources to activities that will attract experts in these specialties. Partnering with reputable physician recruiting agencies, such as Adaptive Medical Partners, will also help hospitals and medical offices expand their network and reach more capable hires.