A new report from a University of Iowa task force says while the rate of loss of doctors remains stable, relocation accounts for more than 60 percent of the physicians who leave the state each year. Retirements account for only about one-fourth of the annual loss of Iowa’s doctors.
Ted Townsend, the CEO of St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, served on the task force and he says strategies need to be developed to keep doctors from leaving.
"It allowed us to see that what looks like on a day-to-day basis sometimes to be a bit of a crisis to see that at a statewide level what we really have is a legitimate concern," Townsend says. "Clearly there are pockets of greater need. Clearly there are trends that are concerning to us."
According to Townsend, the low level of government payments for Medicaid patients and the low number of doctors practicing in rural parts of the state are top concerns. "Each of us who are dealing with this issue on a day-to-day basis in our communities really have a very real concern about how do we retain adequate and recruit adequate physicians to serve the communities we’re trying to serve," Townsend says.
The report calls for a state effort to figure out how to actively recruit doctors who’ve left Iowa and encourage them to come back.