May 13, 2014

How many primary care doctors does your state have?

Daily Briefing

    See our interactive map that charts state-by-state access to primary care doctors.

    The number of PCPs per 100,000 U.S. residents has remained constant from 2002 to 2012, with major variation between states, according to a new CDC report.

    Will there be enough doctors? JAMA evaluates access to physicians

    Mapping out PCP access

    For the report, researchers at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics analyzed data from the agency's National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the NAMC Electronic Heath Records Survey. The report defines a PCP as a physician working in a private practice or a general practice in pediatrics, internal medicine, or geriatrics. CDC did not include hospitalists.

    Overall, they found that the number of PCPs per 100,000 U.S. residents declined slightly from 46.7 in 2002 to 46.1 in 2012. Over that time period, the supply of specialty physicians has consistently exceeded the supply of PCPs; the ratio of PCPs to specialists in 2012 was 0.70.

    Additionally, the report found that the states with the most PCPs per 100,000 residents in 2012 were:

    1. Vermont (66.8);
    2. Rhode Island (66.6);
    3. Massachusetts (65.7); and
    4. Washington (59.6).

    Meanwhile, the states with the fewest PCPs per 100,000 residents were:

    1. Mississippi (26.5);
    2. Georgia (31);
    3. Texas (33.6);
    4. Nevada (33.9); and
    5. New Mexico (36.2).

    Utilization of NPs, PAs: Has not change much

    Additionally, researchers studied the state-by-state rates of PCPs who use physician assistants (PA) or nurse practitioners (NP) in their practice. Researchers found about 53% of PCPs used such clinicians in their practices in 2012, up from 51.2% in 2006.

    Doctor: Nurses are not doctors

    There was significant variation between states when it came to the use of non-physician practitioners. South Dakota led states in NP and PA utilization, with nearly 90% of the state's PCPs using PAs and NPs. Montana, Minnesota, Alaska, Massachusetts, and North Dakota following closely behind. In contrast, only 34.8% of PCPs in Georgia work with a PA or NP.

    Researchers found rural PCPs were more likely to use PAs and NPs than their metropolitan counterparts. Researchers also found physicians in multispecialty groups were more likely to use such clinicians than physicians in single-specialty groups, private practices, and partnerships (Lowes, Medscape Medical News, 5/9).

    Comparing state health

    Diving deeper: How many PCPs are there in your county?

    Click through our interactive map of 2010 data from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

    Click to explore each state

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    1. Current ArticleHow many primary care doctors does your state have?

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