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Report Release: Efficient Health Workforce Data Collection in Illinois

Tiffany Ford and Wesley Epplin
July 17, 2017
Illinois has seen large gains in health insurance coverage in recent years, and in the diversity of its population; however, the State has significant shortages of different types of health professionals in many parts of the state, which can limit healthcare access. Illinois currently ranks 25th nationally in primary care percent of need met, with roughly 60% of its need met. Illinois does not systematically track data on its health workforce, and has an outdated and inefficient approach to collecting data on the providers in the state. The current license renewal data collection is inadequate for determining health professionals’ practice locations, amount of time in practice at each location, and the diversity of the health workforce.

License renewal is an untapped opportunity for systematic collection of valuable data about Illinois’ health workforce. Some states collect a minimum data set for health professions, and Illinois’ lack of such data collection and analysis hinders health workforce planning and healthcare access.

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group recommends that Illinois collect and analyze detailed information during the license renewal process for all health professionals through a policy change made to each health profession’s practice act. Efficient data collection at the point of license renewal will: 1) minimize the administrative burden of data collection; 2) systematically and efficiently collect data on more factors than are currently collected; and 3) help ensure data-informed, strategic health workforce investments.

Achieving health equity and eliminating disparities—one of four overarching goals in Healthy People 2020, the national public health agenda—requires strategic efforts targeted at specific inequities. Collecting this data can help Illinois measure and reduce inequities in access to different types of health providers and use data-informed strategies to diversify the State’s health workforce.

Public Practice Pilot
Health & Medicine has engaged with various stakeholders on this issue, including the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).  As a result of these discussions, IDFPR has agreed to work with Health & Medicine as we pilot this data collection process. Health & Medicine staff will integrate both the Minimum Data Set and HRSA FTE surveys into one combined survey to be made available for each of the appropriate workforce categories license renewal processes.  As the data begins to be collected in a systematic way, a clearer picture of Illinois’ workforce capacity and needs will emerge, allowing different public and private sector stakeholders to better plan and target their investments in the Illinois health workforce.

To read the full recommendation and policy brief on this issue, click here
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