Other Primary Care Providers*

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Ratio of population to primary care providers other than physicians. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2023 for this measure.

Physicians are not the only providers of primary health care. Other professionals can serve as sources of routine, preventive care, including nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), and clinical nurse specialists. In the future years, physician shortages in the U.S. are predicted to persist. Supply adequacy of physicians in 2026 (a shortage of 107,850 physicians or 10%) is projected to continue to decline in 2036 (a shortage of 139,940 physicians or 13%). Certain health care services provided by nurse practitioner and physician assistant workforces can help alleviate shortages as demand increases.1

Find strategies to address Other Primary Care Providers*

Data and methods

Data Source

CMS, National Provider Identification

The National Provider Identification (NPI) Registry enables you to search for a provider's National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) information. All information produced by the NPI Registry is provided in accordance with the NPPES Data Dissemination Notice. Information in the NPI Registry is updated daily. You may run simple queries to retrieve this read-only data. For example, users may search for a provider by the NPI or legal business name.

Website to download data
For more detailed methodological information

Key Measure Methods

Other Primary Care Providers is a ratio

Other Primary Care Providers is the ratio of the county population to the number of primary care providers other than physicians. The ratio can be interpreted as the number of individuals served by an alternative provider in a county, if the population were equally distributed across providers. For example, if a county has a population of 50,000 and has 20 other primary care providers, the county ratio would be: 2,500:1.

Other Primary Care Providers has been corrected

We discovered an error in our method for identifying other primary care providers impacting the 2014-2016 Annual Data Releases: we were including organizations as well as individual providers in each county. The correct estimates of the ratios for Other Primary Care Providers are now available on the 2015 and 2016 Health Snapshots and in the downloadable data files. Unfortunately, the raw data file used to calculate Other Primary Care Providers for the 2014 Annual Data Release is not available, so corrections cannot be provided.

Some data are suppressed

A missing value is reported for counties with population greater than 4,000 and 0 other primary care providers.

Measure limitations

Primary care providers are classified by county, but physicians living on the edge of counties or who practice in multiple locations may see patient populations that reside in surrounding counties.

Additionally, providers who transmit electronic health records are required to obtain an identification number, but some providers may not obtain a number. Some primary care providers included in this list may no longer be practicing or accepting new patients, which may result in an overestimate of providers in some communities.

Left side of ratio

The left side of the ratio is the total county population.

Right side of ratio

The right side of the ratio is the number of other primary care providers in a county. Other primary care providers include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and clinical nurse specialists.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure should not be used to track progress. There are concerns that many providers that are no longer practicing are not deactivated, resulting in an overestimate in the number of practicing providers. 

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Gender
  • Subcounty Area

It is difficult to stratify this measure by population demographics.


1 National Center for Health Workforce Analysis. Physician Workforce: Projections, 2021-2036. Rockville: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); 2023. https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bureau-health-workforce/physicians-projections-factsheet-10-23.pdf

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