Annual Report on Findings from the Hawai‘i Physician Workforce Assessment Project
REPORT TO THE 2021 LEGISLATURE -- December, 2020 (LINK)
There are currently 10,227 physicians licensed in Hawaiʻi, with 3,290 physicians actively providing patient care to patients in Hawaiʻi. The physician effort totals 2,812 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) of direct care to patients as some of the doctors don’t work full time. The national demand model applied to the State of Hawaiʻi indicates a need for 3,529 FTEs indicating a shortage of 710 FTE of physician services. However, when island geography and unmet specialty specific needs by county are examined, the estimated unmet need for physicians (accounting for geographic distance and air travel) increases to 1,008 FTEs (up from 820 last year).
Primary care represents the largest shortage statewide (412 FTEs needed) across all islands.
Statewide, the greatest specialty shortages by percentage are: Colorectal Surgery (65%), Pathology (64%), Pulmonology (63%), Infectious Disease (58%), Allergy/Immunology (55%), and Hematology/Oncology (44%).
The coronavirus pandemic has challenged continued physician practice in Hawaiʻi and contributed to an increased gap in the number of needed physicians and available supply in our state. Given the generally more elderly physician population in Hawaiʻi, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to increase the relative shortage of physicians for the state for the next several years as older physicians leave their practices.
To help meet these needs, the Hawaiʻi Physician Workforce Special Fund has supported the following new and ongoing activities:
• Assisting with providing personal protective equipment to healthcare providers, senior care organizations, clinics, small hospitals, schools, small businesses and non-profit organizations;
• Recruiting providers available to assist given an anticipated pandemic surge;
• Creating a telehealth network to provide mental health and COVID care;
• Maintaining the workforce database and providing de-identified data and presentations as requested throughout the state;
● Providing continuing education including the Hawaiʻi Health Workforce Summit (535 participants in 2020) and Project ECHO (4,000 people-hours of case-based education);
● Providing Educational Loan Repayment to 52 individuals during the eight years of program existence. The need is great, as nine qualified applicants were unfunded last year, and five more have applied subsequently. Unfortunately, this valuable program will probably be phased out as the legislative match required for the federal grant was not funded;
● Promoting physician job opportunities in Hawaiʻi through collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Physician Recruiters Group, supporting online job postings, and hiring a statewide physician recruiter;
● Coordinating neighbor island clinical teaching, travel, lodging, community activities and recruitment of health career-focused learners;
● Assisting with Oʻahu and Maui Health Sector Partnership activities to include partnership with the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi Health Workforce Initiative to bolster non-physician health professions in order to lighten the load on the physicians by maximizing teamwork and health professional collaboration;
● Assist with administering Hawai‘i Preceptor Tax Credit for healthcare preceptors offering professional instruction, training, and supervision to students and residents in medicine, nursing and pharmacy. For the 2019 year, $371,000 in tax credits were provided to 263 individuals for teaching Hawaiʻi students pursuing health careers.
● Assist in the administration of JABSOM scholarships that require pay back of academic education through time practicing in Hawaiʻi.
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