"According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there is a shortage and maldistribution of the primary care workforce. With these issues already presenting challenges to quality care delivery and access, how can we prepare the health industry for the future to come? Through the reallocation of resources, strategic partnerships, and rational planning, Ohio is addressing this pressing challenge in a way that can revitalize the primary care workforce and build a foundation of medical professionals who can fill the gaps.
Ohio has 45 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) comprising nearly 250 health care delivery sites, located in 64 out of its 88 counties that serve about 600,000 patients. Due in part to an initiative to expand the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) state-wide, 125 of Ohio’s FQHC sites are also nationally-recognized PCMHs. Historically, the state of Ohio has supported its FQHCs ($2.7 million per year) to aid and assist in providing care to uninsured patients. However, as more Ohioans have been connected to coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, FQHC’s have experienced a correlated decrease in uninsured patients, falling from 32 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2014.
Ted Wymyslo, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC), and former Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), anticipated the loss of the $2.7 million subsidy with this decrease in uninsured patients and took action. With the help of other partners, OACHC leadership created a proposal to repurpose the current funding to not only address primary care workforce shortages in Ohio, but train the next generation of healthcare providers in the PCMH model. Primary care includes advance practice nurses, physician assistants, dentists, behavioral health specialists, and primary care physicians. OACHC proposed reallocating the $2.7 million to FQHCs who agree to serve as preceptors of health professions students and provide them with high-quality experiences in advanced primary care settings. And when Wymyslo met with the deans of the medical schools in Ohio, they were thrilled to have access to increased numbers of quality ambulatory care sites for their students. With this new initiative, OACHC and partners alike are confident more medical students will pursue a primary care specialty career in Ohio and understand the importance of the PCMH model of care..."
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