The number of physicians in the U.S. increased 195 percent between 1970 and 2010, from 334,000 to more than 985,000. The number of physicians per 100,000 persons increased almost 100 percent, from 161 to 319 during this same 40-year span. In addition to population, the demand for physician services in a particular geographic area is affected by the area’s demographic characteristics (e.g., age and gender), health status and socioeconomic characteristics (e.g., education levels, income and insurance coverage). Today, patient preferences also influence the amount and type of physician services provided, especially preferences among the information-savvy subset of the population that conducts research prior to visiting their physician. Additionally, changes in practice patterns resulting from technology advances can dramatically influence the demand for physician services. For example, despite a growing population and increasing burden of cardiovascular disease in...

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