Should the industry utilize age-based physician competency assessments? 6 things to know

With an aging workforce and looming physician shortage, the medical community is divided on age-based physician competency assessments, according to Medscape.

Here are six things to know:

1. Several age-related conditions include declines in visuospatial skill and manual dexterity, which may inhibit a provider's ability to effectively care for patients. A 2006 study published in JAMA found physicians have a "limited ability to accurately self-assess."

2. However, 18 percent of physicians will be over 65 by 2020 and the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates there will be a national shortage of between 40,800 physicians and 104,900 physicians by 2030.

3. James Ellison, MD, MPH, the Swank Foundation Endowed Chair in memory care and geriatrics for Wilmington, Del.-based Christiana Care Health System, told Medscape the competency test allows the industry to police their profession without imposing mandatory retirement ages.

4. Those opposing the assessment cite age discrimination. After Stanford (Calif.) Hospital and Clinics imposed a policy mandating  physicians aged 75 and older to undergo various assessments every two years, many senior faculty members voted to reject the policy.

5. Harrisburg, Pa.-based researchers conducted a review on a competency skills assessment program of 1,618 practices. The review found physicians over age 70 had a threefold increase rate for license cancellation due to competence, compared to physicians younger than 70.

6. Around the nation, health systems implement different age-based screenings, which raise questions about potential bias. To amend this issue, some industry experts said assessments should emphasis patient care.

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