Rural health care work force forecasting is difficult and uncertain. Three basic methods are used to predict current and future needs for rural health care clinicians: needs-based estimates, demand-based estimates and extrapolation from existing provider to population ratios. Although adjustments to these methods often include factors such as the aging of the population, most forecasting models assume that practice patterns will not change or that changes that will occur are not predictable. Practice guidelines have been developed and widely accepted as an important and necessary method of changing physicians practice patterns. For chronic disease, guidelines outline a program of follow-up care aimed at maximizing control of disease symptoms and minimizing adverse effects and complications. This usually entails a list of regularly scheduled visits and clinical and laboratory assessments.
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