Healthcare Professionals Shortage Areas – understanding the scoring system

A Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) is a geographic area, population, or facility with a shortage of primary care, dental, or mental health providers and services.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and State Primary Care Offices (PCOs) work together using public, private, and state-provided data to determine when such a shortage qualifies for designation as an HPSA.

The following map 1 shows the Dental HPSA  in red and non-HPSA areas in green. The representation is based on a scoring system. But when we map the number of dentists per 10000 population, the interpretation is redefined, as in map 2. This map shows that there are places in HPSA, that are showing dental care access when looking through the density of population (represented in the gradient fo yellow-brown). One other way to look at it would be through the dentists’ location on map 3. This map gives an even better understanding of the individual perspective in terms of commute (dentist location – represented as points).

                  Map 1                            Map 2                                 Map 3


The scoring system factors calculate a score between 0-26 for Dental Health HPSAs. The following figure provides a broad overview of the four components used in Dental HPSA scoring:

But factoring the variables together gives a false perception of the individual variables of interest in the above equation.

Note: All maps are created for the OHNI pilot project for Florida and powered through Google maps & Mappler.


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