Access to Care: Addressing Texas' Physician-to-Population Ratio
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Access to Care: Addressing Texas’ Physician-to-Population Ratio
Texas has one of the fastest growing and aging populations in the nation. Yet, according to recent data, Texas ranks 41st in the nation for physician-to-population ratio. For primary care, Texas ranks even lower – coming in at number 47.
In 2018, the A&M Rural and Community Health Institute and the Episcopal Health Foundation issued a report that showed some alarming results: 35 Texas counties have no physician, 80 counties have five or fewer physicians, 58 counties are without a general surgeon, 147 counties have no obstetrician/gynecologist and 185 Texas counties have no psychiatrist.
28.7 million people call Texas home and it has become increasingly clear that in order to provide high quality health care for a population as diverse and geographically widespread as Texas, the future will require significant investment in physician recruitment, training and education.
‘Getting Them on the Plane’
Russell Meyers, president and CEO of Midland Memorial Hospital, understands the importance, and difficulty, of physician recruitment in communities that don’t have the resources or lifestyle that could be offered in a larger city. Meyers identified the key to Midland’s success as their community partnerships – highlighting the Midland Development Corporation, a board appointed by the Midland City Council to promote business expansion, job creation and capital investments, that has worked with area hospitals to help meet infrastructure and staffing needs.
By covering a significant portion of the upfront costs of recruiting and bringing doctors to the community, Meyers says MDC has “recognized that our community's ability to grow and to make this a livable environment depends on more than just bringing the business here. You must have the infrastructure in place. You’ve got to have physicians and other health care professionals. You need good schools and affordable places to live – all of those things are necessary for the economic miracle to continue.”