BACKGROUND: Anecdotal reports suggest shortages among neurologists who provide multiple sclerosis (MS) patient care. However, little information is available regarding the current and future supply of and demand for this neurologist workforce.
METHODS: We used information from neurologist and neurology resident surveys, professional organizations, and previously reported studies to develop a model assessing the projected supply and demand (ie, expected physician visits) of neurologists providing MS patient care. Model projections extended through 2035.
RESULTS: The capacity for MS patient visits among the overall neurologist workforce is projected to increase by approximately 1% by 2025 and by 12% by 2035. However, the number of individuals with MS may increase at a greater rate, potentially resulting in decreased access to timely and high-quality care for this patient population. Shortages in the MS neurologist workforce may be particularly acute in small cities and rural areas. Based on model sensitivity analyses, potential strategies to substantially increase the capacity for MS physicians include increasing the number of patients with MS seen per neurologist, offering incentives to decrease neurologist retirement rates, and increasing the number of MS fellowship program positions.
CONCLUSIONS: The neurologist workforce may be adequate for providing MS care currently, but shortages are projected over the next 2 decades. To help ensure access to needed care and support optimal outcomes among individuals with MS, policies and strategies to enhance the MS neurologist workforce must be explored now.