From income inequality to means of mass production, the coronavirus has taught the entire planet lessons about issues unrelated to health. Of course, the COVID-19 flu pandemic has also shed light on long-simmering topics within the health community and a supposed “doctor shortage” is among them. As a former professor of pharmacy, medicine and public health at the University of Arizona, J. Lyle Bootman was responsible for overseeing the education of medical experts in training. His vision and direction were also put to use while assisting the Arizona Health Sciences Center as a senior vice president for health services. In this role, Mr. Bootman helped guide four health professions colleges during a transition period. Since he is already well-versed in academia and its issues – and since no doctor lands that job without extensive schooling – Jesse Lyle Bootman is closely following recent headlines related to a “doctor shortage.”
According to an April 2020 article from the magazine Washingtonian, the number of doctors entering employment in the U.S. is directly tied to payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to hospitals. Those funds are used to hire “resident” doctors and this is a “crucial bridge” crossed before becoming a licensed physician. In short, the funding to increase the total number of doctors isn’t there and as such, “the federal government has enormous leverage over the number of new physicians that enter medicine each year.” By no means is this a nefarious way of controlling the medical field in the U.S., says J. Lyle Bootman, but it is something that has been made worse by the coronavirus. Currently, Mr. Bootman is the senior vice president for global health and consumer initiatives for a New Jersey-based healthcare company. Wrangling data to help make informed decisions is what he has spent decades doing and to help stem a shortage in doctors is going to require educated anticipation.
A recent Consumer Affairs article points out that 18 percent of doctors who responded to a recent U.S. survey plan to retire in the near term. This would place increased strain on a shortage – but there are silver linings to be seen, says J. Lyle Bootman. “The coronavirus has led to a huge increase in the number of physicians who are using telemedicine to treat patients remotely,” the article states, and that’s innovation in action. Mr. Bootman has authored hundreds of research articles and looked at big issues at a very granular level. As one of the 50 most influential pharmacists in the U.S., according to American Druggist, J. Lyle Bootman has shown that studying the issues we are faced with and then rolling out plans to solve them is the logical path forward. COVID-19 has tested so many societal structures but data, when used correctly, can steer us toward better days.