Neurologist Shortages Widespread in U.S., Alzheimer’s Association Warns
According to new research released at an association event, neurological care is struggling to keep up with the demand in 20 states. The care gap is seen as an opportunity to both expand service and better educate primary care physicians on neurological issues.
According to new research released at an Alzheimer’s Association event, 40 percent of states are struggling to keep up with the neurology needs of the disease that gives the group its name.
On Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London, researchers with the startup Neurocern, Inc., revealed that 20 states had a significant gap between the neurology workforce and the number of people in those states suffering from dementia. The gaps were most significant in Wyoming, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.
The numbers were tabulated using population data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with the results developed by Neurocern into the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Neurology Desert Index. ANDI projects the ratio of neurologists for every 10,000 dementia patients.
According to the analysis, the 20 states represent 1.64 million people suffering from dementia, a number expected to top 2 million by 2025.
Dr. Anitha Rao, the cofounder of Neurocern, emphasized in a news release that while the regional disparities are concerning, they also represent “opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and progress.”
“Our data highlights the importance of neurology education for clinicians, enabling them to have a more positive impact on people with dementia and their families,” she added.
Alzheimer’s Association Vice President of Constituent Services, Beth Kallmyer, added that the issues highlighted by the survey don’t necessarily have to be solved by specialists. She pointed to the value of improving training for primary care physicians.
“In many places, people do not have easy access to specialists, for a variety of reasons. But you may not need a neurologist in every case,” Kallmyer said in the release. “With the right training and tools, primary care physicians can effectively diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association is working to arm primary care physicians with the tools they need to manage an increased caseload, as well as care planning guidance.”
To help with this, the group has a Cognitive Impairment Care Planning Toolkit, targeted at nonspecialists, on its website.