When things change in the computer world we all hear about it. Amazon sells a Fire tablet for less than it costs to manufacture it. Steve Jobs, the top dog at Apple, dies and the whole world mourns.

When it comes to local healthcare news involving our pediatricians and obstetricians and heart surgeons, we don’t really hear about it.   

Did you know, for instance, that the Hudson Valley will be facing a big doctor shortage?  Or that larger medical groups are gobbling up smaller medical practices?

I called Dr. Seth Levin from Hudson Gastroenterology Associates. The office staff answered, “Horizon Family Medical Group.”  The Children’s & Women’s Physicians of Westchester group has new alliances with Washingtonville Pediatrics as well as other medical groups. Groups like Mid-Hudson Medical Group can’t acquire medical practices fast enough.  The world of local medicine is changing and we hear very little about it.

What does it mean for us?  Well, as these groups get larger they now offer services once exclusively the domain of hospitals. At one time, we went to the hospital for mammograms.  No longer. We also had our colonoscopy procedures at the hospital. Not anymore. 

What does that mean for our hospitals?  They’re losing money left and right every time a medical group takes over a procedure. 

David Ping, Health Quest's strategic planner

I went to the chief architect for strategic planning for Health Quest, David Ping, to find out how their hospital group, which includes Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Northern Dutchess Hospital and Putnam Hospital Center, is handling these changes.

  1. What should Hudson Valley residents know about the state of our medical services?

First, people don’t realize that locally we are absolutely being impacted by doctor shortages. Every three years we look at the number of doctors we have in the region and what the needs are.  We also look at the aging of physicians. The fact is that within five years we will have a need for 102 additional physicians including internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, family practitioners and general surgeons.

We are part of a national trend of too few physicians.  We might feel a greater impact because we are close to large metropolitan areas that are attractive to physicians and their families.

We find that physicians are not going into some of these fields because the specialties are not well-paid based on what they do. For other specialties the medical malpractice insurance rates are so high that it discourages doctors from entering the field.

        2.  How is your group trying to meet those need

We are developing medical practices under Health Quest to help bring more doctors to areas that have a need.  We have 150 practitioners; 60 primary care practitioners alone who practice out of 13 offices.

Angela Keleher, MD, FACS

We also are bringing in specialists like Angela Keleher, MD, FACS. She joined Health Quest in 2007 as the director of Breast Cancer Services. She is highly respected in the field of breast surgical oncology. We now have three certified fellowship trained breast surgeons on staff.
In coming blogs I reveal David Ping’s vision about hospitals using alternative modalities, offering cutting edge medicine and what will be the new hospital’s role.