Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) refer to geographic locations, population groups or facilities (such as a prison or state psychiatric hospital) that lack sufficient health care providers to meet local health care needs. According to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which designates HPSAs, approximately 6,700 primary care HPSAs exist in the United States. Currently, 59 percent of all primary care HPSAs are located in rural areas.
The map illustrates the differences among states in meeting the need for primary care health professionals. The lighter colored states have a higher need for providers in HPSAs. The number highlighted in each state shows the number of targeted primary care practitioners needed in specific shortage categories to remove the HPSA designation for primary care.
According to federal data, current health care providers meet only 55 percent of the national need for primary care. It would take an additional 10,000 providers practicing in HPSAs to meet the current need. The problem is growing, with an anticipated need for as many as 40,000 additional primary care physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Provider shortages create challenges and barriers for patients trying to access health care services. State lawmakers have considered addressing such primary care shortages by adopting recruitment and retention strategies, such as supporting pathway, scholarship and loan repayment programs; examining scope of practice laws for non-physician providers; using emerging health providers, such as community health workers or community paramedics; and expanding services via telehealth.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, Designated Health Professional Shortage Areas Statistics-Third Quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.