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VOLUME 52 | NUMBER 1.2 | FEBRUARY 2017


Developing Physician Migration Estimates for Workforce Models

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Objective: To understand factors affecting specialty heterogeneity in physician migration.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Physicians in the 2009 American Medical Association Masterfile data were matched to those in the 2013 file. Office locations were geocoded in both years to one of 293 areas of the country. Estimated utilization, calculated for each specialty, was used as the primary predictor of migration. Physician characteristics (e.g., specialty, age, sex) were obtained from the 2009 file. Area characteristics and other factors influencing physician migration (e.g., rurality, presence of teaching hospital) were obtained from various sources.

Study Design: We modeled physician location decisions as a two-part process: First, the physician decides whether to move. Second, conditional on moving, a conditional logit model estimates the probability a physician moved to a particular area. Separate models were estimated by specialty and whether the physician was a resident.

Principal Findings: Results differed between specialties and according to whether the physician was a resident in 2009, indicating heterogeneity in responsiveness to policies. Physician migration was higher between geographically proximate states with higher utilization for that specialty.

Conclusions: Models can be used to estimate specialty-specific migration patterns for more accurate workforce modeling, including simulations to model the effect of policy changes.

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