December 5, 2017
Alan Whitson

In Southern California, Physician Visits Growing 217% Faster Than the Population

Doctor visits will increase 217.6% faster than the population in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties. That’s according to an analysis prepared for the California Hospital, Outpatient Facilities & Medical Office Building Summit in Downtown Los Angeles on December 13. Combined these five counties account for almost half of the doctor visits in California. Nationally one in every eight doctor visits happen in California. Doctor visits for those 65 and over will increase from 16.6 million a year in 2015 to 44.6 million a year in 2060. Doctor visits for those 18 and under will decline from 10.9 million a year to 9.8 million a year. However, these patterns differ dramatically among the five counties. Some patient groups see explosive growth in the number of doctor visits a year while others decline.

What happens once a person gets to the doctor’s office? They wait! A recent survey of doctors reveals that 28% of them fall behind daily and 36% run late several times a week. How late – 45% run 16 to 30 minutes behind. Harvard researchers studied the doctor visit from the patient’s perspective and found the average time a person spends with their doctor is 20 minutes. Travel time to and from the doctor’s office is 37 minutes. Waiting and paperwork adds 64 minutes. Overall, the average visit to the doctor’s office consumes 121 minutes.

The increased demand for healthcare services by Baby Boomers is dramatic. Yet, many fail to consider that when a person reaches 64 they become eligible for Medicare. This is important because, private insurance pay 144% of the cost of services provided, but Medicare pays only 89% squeezing margins for healthcare providers. Programs like Medicare Advantage are forcing healthcare systems to look at their delivery model differently. This includes improving throughput in outpatient care facilities. Doctors can see 20% more patients by removing bottlenecks and time wasters. A growing trend is how those visits occur. Virtual care centers such as the one Sisters of Mercy built in St. Louis are providing care to hundreds of patients daily across a multistate region while lowering costs and improving the quality of care. This is happening in big healthcare markets too. New York Presbyterian will have 10,000 virtual patient visits in 2017 says Daniel Barchi, CIO. NYP is ramping up for 100,000 virtual patient visits in 2018.docvisitsgrowing

B. Alan Whitson, RPA, AWhitson@squarefootage.net

President, Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute

Chair, Healthcare Real Estate Committee, IFMA Health Care Institute