University of Cincinnati releases new data on local health workforce

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Cincinnati, OH - The University of Cincinnati (UC) recently completed a comprehensive regional health workforce profile, which contains up-to-date headcounts and available demographic data for health professionals within Hamilton County.

"As the area’s only Academic Health Center, it is our obligation to have an understanding of the health care workforce needs so that we can educate and graduate the appropriate numbers and types of students to fill these important roles,” says Greer Glazer, PhD, UC associate vice president for health affairs and dean, UC College of Nursing.

The profile, produced by HealthLandscape, LLC. in collaboration with the UC Academic Health Center, gathers data on advanced practice nurses, audiologists, community health workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, primary care physicians, registered dietitians, registered nurses, social workers and speech-language pathologists. Data was not available for all health care occupations. 

Although the profile provides much-needed workforce data, it also highlighted the need for improved data collection across all health professions.

"This study was eye-opening for us, as it put down on paper the challenges we have to gathering the data we need to be able to predict future workforce needs,” says Barbara Tobias, MD, Robert & Myfanwy Smith Endowed Professor, UC Department of Family and Community Medicine, and medical director of the Health Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati. 

Data for each occupation was drawn in late 2013 from a number of source files, including the American Medical Association Master File, the Bureau of Health Professions Area Resource File, the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (also known as the National Provider Identifier file, or NPI), the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample, and Ohio state licensure files. Because the goals of each dataset vary, headcounts varied widely. 

"For example, three different source files for primary care physicians showed variations in headcounts on the order of hundreds,” says Tobias. "And depending upon where providers practice, versus where they live or bill, numbers can vary greatly.” 

Because of the limitations of the regional workforce profile, Glazer and Tobias say, next steps will be to find ways to better collect data in order to paint a clearer picture of the health care workforce in the region, hopefully using a model that other regions can follow.