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American Medical Association upgrades mapping tool to help providers identify underserved areas

The mapping tool identifies health professional shortage areas, hospital locations, workforce trends, wellness barriers.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

The American Medical Association upgraded and launched a new enhanced version of its Health Workforce Mapper with updated data to better help physicians and other healthcare providers improve patient access to care.

The tool shows the geographic locations healthcare workforce in each state, including physician specialties and subspecialties. It also identifies health professional shortage areas, hospital locations and other workforce trends.T

The tool's "Population Health Explorer" feature shows data on population health factors like care access and quality, smoking and alcohol use, demographics, and social environment factors. Users can see where physicians practice, where patients are and the issues that may be influencing their health.

The tool uses data from the AMA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


The tool could prove useful in helping close gaps in care access by giving users the ability to see where each state is suffering shortages in workforce, medical specialty care and where health programs related to issues like smoking, alcohol use and other social determinants might be useful. If health professionals and advocacy organizations can access such information, they can effort solutions.


It's no secret that physician shortages are looming, and there are care access gaps  preventing people from taking care of themselves and addressing both acute health and overall wellness issues.

Social determinants of health such as distance to a provider, access to health resources and treatment programs are getting more and more attention as major influencers to population health and medical outcomes that must be addressed to drive quality and reduce readmissions, unnecessary admissions and cost.


"The AMA is committed to improving patient access to high-quality care. With the updated mapping tool, physicians and health care professionals will be able to more precisely and easily pinpoint the areas and populations which could benefit most from their skills and services," said AMA President Barbara L. McAneny. "Providers can use this information to help them determine where to locate or expand their practices to reach patients in greatest need of access to care."


Systems and practices, even individual clinicians, looking to increase their footprint or help more patients should consider the information from this tool to help form strategies to address the social determinants that are holding back patient access to healthcare as well as gaps in care access.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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