Los Angeles faces a looming shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists, according to a new study.

The study by Doximity Inc. puts L.A. at No. 2 – trailing Las Vegas – on a list of major U.S. cities at risk of an OB-GYN shortage because of its large number of doctors nearing retirement and a baby delivery workload 20 percent higher than the national average, a demographic trend that could lead to physician burnout.

San Francisco-based Doximity claims to be the largest online social network for physicians, and its June 2018 workforce study drew on 43,000 OB-GYN member profiles across the 50 largest U.S. urban areas.

“The nature of obstetrics, and childbirth in particular, is especially demanding, often requiring OB-GYNs to work at unpredictable hours,” the study said. “This lifestyle can lead OBGYNs to retire at younger ages than physicians in other specialties.”

The Doximity report released late last month also cited a warning by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which projected a U.S. shortage of up to 8,800 OB-GYNs by 2020, and up to 22,000 by 2050.

Greater Los Angeles has the seventh-highest number of live births per OB-GYN in the nation, with an average of 122 a year per doctor. Riverside is second with 237 live births a year per doctor.

L.A. rates above average in the number of persons reaching retirement age, while ranking near bottom nationally in terms of the number of OB-GYNs younger than 40 years old, at 14.4 percent.

Los Angeles also ranks among the top three urban areas in the percentage of women on Medicaid, at 68.3 percent, suggesting flat or lower compensation for physician services.

“Potential shortages of OB-GYNS, increasing workload demands and compensation issues are critical concerns for the delivery of women’s health care services,” the Doximity study concluded. “Ideally, measures will be taken both at the national and local level to address the growing shortfall.”

Pacemaker Makers

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and USC are searching for a medical device company to manufacture a micro-pacemaker that is implanted on the exterior of a child’s heart.

Joint research conducted between the East Hollywood hospital and biomedical engineers at USC led to the successful implant of a micro-pacemaker in the pericardial sac around the heart.

The tiny pacemaker, inserted through a small incision, avoids an invasive surgical procedure and complications related to long pacemaker leads, according to researchers, who said there’s a chance the technology could be applied to adults.

“Much about this device and its implantation is novel – starting with implanting an entire pacing system in the pericardial space in a minimally invasive fashion, which has never been done before,” said Dr. Yaniv Bar-Cohen, a Children’s Hospital cardiologist and a professor of clinical pediatrics and medicine at Keck School of Medicine at USC, in a statement.

The device’s developers, who just published a study on its feasibility, now seek an industry partner to collaborate on its development and commercialization.

The micro-pacemaker, whose patent is held by Children’s Hospital, was developed by a team led by Bar-Cohen, Dr. Gerald Loeb, a professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and Dr. Ramen Chmait, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at USC.

They are now collaborating on developing the first micro-pacemaker to treat fetuses in utero.

Kominski Steps Down

Jerry Kominski, stepped down as director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research on July 1.

He’ll remain affiliated with the center as a senior fellow.

Kominski’s successor is Ninez Ponce, associate director for the UCLA center and a director at the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health and a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy.

Ponce credited her predecessor, an expert on evaluating the costs and financing of public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, with informing discussions on the Affordable Care Act.

“Under Jerry’s leadership, the center has grown and its work now reaches new audiences and stakeholders,” Ponce said, in a new director’s message.

Kominski, who led the Center for Health Policy Research since 2012, was involved with the institute since it was founded in 1994. He now serves as a senior fellow.

Staff reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8333.

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