Texas is a uniquely varied state, combining booming cities with thousands of square miles of countryside. And that represents a challenge for the medical field, and for people in need of medical care.
Despite fast growth in our cities, nearly 70 percent of Texas counties are considered rural, and according to the State Office of Rural Health, 64 of them lack a hospital; 25 do not have a single primary-care physician (Exhibit 1).
And Texas has a physician shortage. The state ranks 47th in the nation for its ratio of primary-care physicians per 100,000 people. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated Texas would face a demand deficit of around 1,760 physicians by 2025, the second-largest gap among states (Exhibit 2).
Of 254 Texas Counties:
Some Texans must travel more than 100 miles to reach the nearest medical facility.
(Austin to San Antonio is 80 miles. Dallas to Waco is 98 miles.)
50% of future doctors who leave Texas to receive medical training never return to the state.
Since 2010, 12 hospitals in rural Texas have closed.
Sources: Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas State Office of Rural Health
|Category||Deficit or Surplus of Physicians by 2025|
Note: Estimated differences equal supply minus demand; a negative difference reflects a shortage (i.e., supply less than demand), while a positive difference indicates a surplus (i.e., supply greater than demand).
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration
Health information technology (health IT) is a promising approach for tackling Texas health care challenges, particularly in its vast but sparsely populated rural areas. Health IT includes a variety of services, generally defined as:
Thanks to new laws passed in the 2017 regular legislative session, these services may gain broader reach in Texas.