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University of Delaware survey says fewer primary care physicians are practicing in state


(Delaware Online) – We’re losing primary care doctors in Delaware, a trend that’s likely to continue, especially downstate, according to a survey released this week.

It doesn’t mean there is a statewide shortage — at least for now — it’s just that primary care doctors aren’t easily found in the right places, says the annual University of Delaware survey commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Services.

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker said the state needs to find a way to incentivize a team approach to healthcare, and encourage more new doctors — particularly those from minority and rural backgrounds — to start primary care practices. 

In 2018, there were 815 individual primary care physicians practicing in Delaware, down 5.4 percent since 2013. Both Kent and Sussex counties exceed the 2,000-to-1, primary doctor-to-patient ratio that’s the benchmark for shortages, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

The survey also found that the decline will continue, especially in Kent County. A quarter of Kent’s primary care doctors are 65 and older, compared with Sussex’s 16 percent and New Castle County’s 13 percent. And 40 percent of doctors in Kent County reported that they won’t be practicing in five years, compared to 30 percent in Sussex County and 22 percent in New Castle County.

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