Profile of the Primary Care Physician Workforce in Arkansas

June 2023

Contact: Arkansas Center for Health Improvement 

"Healthcare provider shortages continue to be one of the most pressing challenges faced by healthcare organizations and communities seeking to ensure access to quality care for their residents. Having a shortage generally means that large segments of the population do not have enough healthcare providers to meet their demand for care. Assessing provider shortages is a critical component of assuring broader access to quality care, including addressing insurance coverage gaps, out-of-pocket cost barriers, challenges with social needs such as transportation, and linguistic or cultural impediments.

Shortages for a particular geographic area or population segment may be assessed by provider type (e.g., physician or pharmacist) specialty type (e.g., cardiology), or type of needed care (e.g., mental health care), and assessments may use different methods to quantify shortages, such as projections, estimations, simulation models, or surveys.1 A shortage may be quantified as a patient population-to-provider ratio (e.g., 3,500 patients per primary care provider),a drive time (e.g., an average of 75 miles to the nearest cardiologist), or wait time (e.g., an average of 35 days for the earliest available appointment). National efforts to assess health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), while helpful for cross-state comparisons, may not adequately reflect local needs or optimally support stakeholder needs to design solutions to address shortages.

This report uses state-specific physician licensure and insurance claims data to quantify primary care physician supply in Arkansas. More specifically, the report provides demographic and geographic profiles for “active” primary care physicians, i.e., primary care physicians contributing to the clinical workforce as evidenced by activity in insurance claims. This is the first time that Arkansas’s primary care physician workforce has been profiled in this way, and the report is intended to be the first in a series of assessments that will characterize the state’s healthcare workforce to inform clinical leaders and policymakers regarding decisions that impact provider access for Arkansas communities."

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