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Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
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The Primary Care Office (PCO) collects and analyzes demographic and provider data to determine areas within Ohio that are underserved according to federal Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) criteria. Designation as a HPSA allows Ohio communities to apply for recruitment and retention assistance through various state and federal programs, and is often utilized as a preference factor for other public and private funding opportunities.

The HPSA designation may assess the need for primary medical care, dental health or mental health providers in an area. The PCO works in partnership with local communities for the designation of primary care HPSAs, and works collaboratively with the ODH Oral Health Section and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the designation of dental and mental health HPSAs.  

HPSA Requirements

  • Rational service area – The area must be rational for the delivery of services. Rational service areas may be defined as a whole county (usually rural), a neighborhood (usually urban) or a grouping of townships or census tracts that are demographically and socio-economically similar. 
  • Population-to-provider ratio - Minimum ratios vary with the discipline and type of HPSA being requested, as well as with the demographics of the area. 
  • Contiguous area analysis – Services in neighboring areas must be unavailable to the HPSA based on overutilization, excessive distance or socioeconomic barriers. 

Types of HPSAs 

  • Geographic area designations may be done for whole counties (usually rural), neighborhoods (usually urban) or groupings of townships or census tracts that are demographically and socio-economically similar. 
  • Population groups eligible for designation include low income, Medicaid eligible, homeless and migrant farmworkers within a defined geographic area. 
  • Facilities that may be considered for designation include public and nonprofit facilities providing primary, dental or mental health care to residents of a designated HPSA; medium and maximum security correctional facilities or youth detention centers; and state mental hospitals. Additionally, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and FQHC Look-Alikes are considered automatic facility HPSAs. Automatic facility HPSA status is also available for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) that meet the requirement of providing access to care regardless of ability to pay. More information on RHC automatic HPSAs is available on the HRSA website. 

Review Cycle

  • New designations may be requested at any time. 
  • Current designations must be updated periodically following a regular update cycle and may be updated more frequently if significant provider changes occur in the community. 

Visit the HRSA website to see a list of currently designated HPSAs. To view more detail, such as the date of last update, click on the advanced search option on the right-hand side of the page.