A great challenge facing United States healthcare is the largely uneven distribution of primary care physicians, particularly in rural and underserved areas. As of 2013, data shows that while there are about 80 primary care physicians per 100,000 people in the United States; when broken down economically, the average is 68 per 100,000 in rural areas compared to 84 per 100,000 in urban areas.
Development of Practice Sights
In an effort to (1) strengthen states ability to recruit and retain primary care providers and (2) develop and sustain practices in underserved areas, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) launched Practice Sights: State Primary Care Strategies in 1991. The Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation served as the national program office.
Along with providing states with technical assistance and group learning, The Foundation helped to create the Practice Sights recruitment software. In 1998, Practice Sights was integrated with an internet recruitment tool called the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet). Since then, both The Foundation and 3RNet have continued to work with participating states and organizations to further develop the work started by the RWJF.
Practice Sights Today
Practice Sights has evolved over the years to include a larger focus on building retention. This evolution is thanks to funding provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the National Health Service Corps, the National Rural Health Association and participating State Primary Care Offices supported by a HRSA grant program.
In 2010, the Foundation, The North Carolina Office of Rural Health, The North Carolina Medical Society Foundation and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research (Sheps Center) partnered to develop and add a retention module within the Practice Sights recruitment software system. In the year following, eleven participating State Primary Care Offices pooled a portion of their grant support to form a collaborative that allowed them to not only assess retention within their states, but share this information with other states, and target their retention efforts going forward.
In 2013, The Foundation, along with the eleven states and the Sheps Center, launched the Practice Sights Retention Management System, a web-based longitudinal retention data gathering system, with a two-fold purpose:
- To routinely collect data to identify and document outcomes to enhance the retention of clinicians.
- To build shared interest, cooperation and group wisdom in best practices to promote retention among collaborative states.
Today, the Practice Sights Retention Collaborative has grown to include 16 states. The project continues to expand as collaborative states, the Sheps Center, 3RNet and The Foundation work together to learn and understand what will best serve states recruitment and retention efforts.
Current Participating States & Organizations
- Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
- Arkansas Department of Health
- California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development
- Delaware Department of Health and Social Services
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Kentucky Department of Health
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- Montana Department of Health and Human Services
- Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
- Nevada Division of Public & Behavioral Health/Office of Primary Care
- Nevada Office of Rural Health
- Nevada Primary Care Association
- New Mexico Health Resources, Inc.
- North Carolina Office of Rural Health
- North Carolina Medical Society Foundation
- Oregon Health Authority/ Primary Care Office
- Oregon Office of Rural Health
- Rhode Island Department of Health
- South Carolina Office of Rural Health
- South Carolina Dept. of Health & Environmental Control/ Office of Primary Care
- South Carolina AHEC/ Medical University of South Carolina
- Tennessee Rural Partnership
- University of North Dakota Dept. of Family & Community Medicine
- Wisconsin Division of Public Health
For more information about Practice Sights, visit the project description here.