Oregon Health Authority released its biennial Oregon Healthcare Workforce Needs Assessment report recently, which shows that the racial/ethnic diversity of the healthcare workforce does not match the diversity of the Oregon population. OHA also released its Healthcare Provider Incentive Program (HCPIP), which showed how Oregon’s incentive programs are performing in addressing workforce challenges.  

A core conclusion across the report is that there are shortages of certain healthcare professions across physical, behavioral and oral health, some of which can be particularly acute in rural areas.

Rural areas struggle to recruit and retain providers, and so, on average, rural and frontier areas have more unmet health care needs than urban areas in Oregon, the report stated. The number of healthcare providers varies greatly across the state, with rural/frontier areas more likely to be underserved than urban areas. For instance, behavioral health providers full-time equivalent (FTE) per capita is 65% less in rural/frontier areas compared with urban areas. There are no licensed behavioral health providers in 21 rural and frontier service areas.

The dentist FTE per capita is 40% less in rural/frontier areas compared with urban areas. Also, the ability of current primary care providers to meet demand (as measured by the primary care capacity ratio) is 23% lower in rural/frontier areas compared with urban areas.