Study Committee Considers Ways To Close Health Provider Gap

Sep 28, 2017

A public health study committee addressed the state’ provider shortage at the Statehouse. The issue is far-reaching and widely varied in Indiana.

The state ranks near the bottom when it comes to physicians per capita and the problem is only expected to increase as more providers retire and people live longer.

In rural Indiana, it’s difficult to retain doctors and nurses.

Hanna Maxey, Director of Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research says the state should consider the shortage as a development opportunity.

“Each rural primary care physician brings with them 26 jobs to that rural community and an additional 1.4 million dollars in wage and benefits into that community,” says Maxey.

In recent years, Indiana lawmakers have addressed this issue by creating loan repayment programs or increasing telemedicine efforts. People testified about the need for better incentives and more accurate data projections.

Some skilled nursing facilities suggest more drastic measures like consolidation. Vince McGowen is with Avalon Health Care.

“Roughly 20 percent of my workforce need… unmet… and we’re doing everything we can to recruit and retain people,” says McGowen.

Medical student debt and a cap on funding for medical residencies were cited as reasons for the shortage.

Dr. Rhonda Sharp, Indiana State Medical Association says there’s also the issue of physician burnout.

“It’s attributed to cost cutting measures, increased reliance on technology, the loss of independence in a physicians practice and this all puts a strain on physicians relationships with their patients,” Sharp says.

Nationally, there’s a 90,000 physician deficit projected by 2025.