STUDY: Shortage of primary care physicians in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It could soon become harder for you to find a primary care doctor in Cincinnati. According to a new study by the Health Collaborative, we're short. Big time.

In fact, the study found that Greater Cincinnati has a shortfall of nearly 200 primary care physicians, and the deficit is projected to grow by 2017.

The Health Collaborative study was made by a group of business, health care and community leaders formed to improve health and health care in the region.

Dr. Yvette Casey-Hunter is the chief medical officer and primary care physician for WinMed Health Services. She says she notices the fewer number of primary care doctors.

"It is so hard to find physicians who are number one, dedicated to this type of population, who are very needy," said Dr. Casey-Hunter.

"Today? 195... That's how much we need to meet the most conservative estimates for care," explained President of the Academy of Medicine of Cincinnati Dr. Robyn Chatman.

She says that number will rise as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take full effect.

"That number goes up to 250 once we take into account those newly insured patients," Dr. Chatman said.

Chatman believes the solution is to train more primary care physicians.

"Get them to stay primary doctors and to stay in Cincinnati, and see if we can distribute them better where the need is the greatest," she added.

With more than 170 new students enrolling into medical school at the University of Cincinnati, it sounds promising, but Dr. Chatman says the sad reality is too many medical students will avoid primary care altogether.

"They're going to look at the size of their debt load, and they're going to say what specialty is going to put me in the best position to pay off this debt, and sadly, they are not choosing primary care because it has traditionally been at the bottom of the totem pole as far as reimbursement," Dr. Chatman explained. "So we've got to do something about that."

Dr. Chatman says in the study they came up with strategies to recruit new primary care physicians to live and stay in the community.

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