Colorado is facing a “perfect storm” that will leave the state with a serious shortage of health professionals. On the supply side, our current health professions workforce will decline as workers in the Baby Boomer generation reach retirement age. On the demand side, the numbers of Coloradans seeking health care will increase as our population ages and as efforts continue to expand access to health services. Rural communities that now face limited access to health providers are likely to be especially impacted.
In light of this serious problem, the Center for Research Strategies applauds the passage of House Bill 12-1052, the Health Care Workforce Data Collection bill by the Colorado General Assembly. Pending a signature from Governor Hickenlooper the bill will request certain healthcare professionals such as practical and professional nurses, addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, pharmacists, physicians, and physician assistants, to provide information regarding their practice location, specialty, education and training when they apply for or renew their professional license. The resulting information will be compiled by the Division of Registrations and will be available by request from the Primary Care Office (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) in a format that protects the identity of the provider. http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/pp/primarycare/index.html
Since 2008, the Colorado Health Professions Workforce Policy Collaborative has been working to inform and educate policy makers regarding a health professions workforce policy agenda while building the state’s primary care workforce. As of July 2011, the collaborative has grown from the original 35 participants to 127 members representing 90 organizations. Participants have included representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Labor, the Commission on Higher Education and the U.S. Regional Office of the Health Resources and Services Administration, as well as those who are responsible for the education, recruitment and retention of health professionals, particularly in the primary care field.
Priorities defined by the Collaborative are detailed in the report: Public Policy Agenda: Addressing Colorado’s Primary Care Workforce Shortage, Recommendations from Colorado’s Health Professions Workforce Policy Collaborative, 2010. The Health Care Workforce Data Collection bill has been one of the Collaborative’s priorities. http://specialdeliveryonline.blogspot.com/2010/11/2011-public-policy-agenda-from-colorado.html
Having this type of provider information compiled will provide an ongoing perspective on Colorado’s supply of health care workers and its ability to meet the needs of all Coloradans. CRS recognizes the important work of the Colorado Health Professions Workforce Policy Collaborative and congratulates the many members who advocated for improved health professions data in Colorado.