Primary Care Physician Mapper Makes Workforce Data Easily Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leslie Champlin
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224

LEAWOOD, Kan. — States struggling to build their primary care physician workforce now have a tool to help them pinpoint the distribution of primary care physicians by county or metropolitan census tract, thanks to a new tool provided by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.

The “Primary Care Physician Mapper(” tool can be used by health policy analysts, researchers, academic centers, and state officials to identify areas in a state that may have inadequate numbers of primary care physicians, either too few or too many.

“With these data, policy makers and legislators can direct programs to build the primary care physician workforce in areas of greatest need,” said Andrew Bazemore, MD, MPH, director of the Graham Center. “This tool improves upon decision making based on broad estimates or national projections by helping visualize the primary care physician workforce in specific states, counties, or census tracts of metropolitan areas.”

The Physician Mapper draws from the National Provider Identifier (NPI), maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Any provider who bills Medicare, Medicaid, or certain private insurance companies is counted in the NPI dataset. In addition to identifying primary care physician saturation, users can identify locations of health facilities such as hospitals, rural health clinics or Federally Qualified Health Centers; highway access to facilities; and other data to determine whether residents have access to primary care services.

“The data go beyond simply counting the number of primary care physicians in an area,” said Bazemore. “They also show breakdowns by specialty type and how physician-to-population ratios vary and suggest shortage or surplus.”

“Such information is a first step in helping health policy makers determine where primary care physician access is most threatened,” he said.

The Physician Mapper is available without charge on the Robert Graham Center site. “We want to ensure that policy makers, legislators, academic researchers, and others have access to the information they need,” Bazemore said.

The Graham Center hopes to launch a broader workforce data display platform capable of revealing distribution of other provider types — including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral, and other specialists — soon.

# # #

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and Family Medicine conducts research and analysis that brings a family practice perspective to health policy deliberations in Washington. Founded in 1999, the center is an independent research unit working under the personnel and financial policies of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The information and opinions contained in research from the Graham Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.

November 13, 2012