This Just In: Latest Data on Colorado's Health Care Professions

Colorado gained 572 actively licensed physicians during 2013, reaching a total of 14,822 – about 2.8 physicians for each 1,000 residents.

The number of actively licensed physicians ranges from none in Bent County to 3,414 in Denver County.

These updates on physician licensures, plus data for 21 other professions, are now available on the Colorado Health Institute website.

As more Coloradans sign up for health insurance and gain access to care, Colorado leaders are turning to the question of whether Colorado has an adequate primary care workforce.

Because data that track provider trends are increasingly important to help inform the conversation, the Colorado Health Institute provides access to a wide range on its website.  

CHI downloads workforce licensure data from the Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA). The DORA database changes daily as professionals update their license status. CHI downloads the data at the same point annually to ensure consistency across time and to compare changes from one year to the next. This year, the data were downloaded on January 2, the first business day of 2014.

The updated licensure data can be downloaded as Excel workbooks here. Workbooks include a total of actively licensed professionals, the number of new licenses in the past calendar year, and a count of net gains and losses.

Some highlights from the data:

  • In each of the past three years, the number of certified nursing assistants has increased. In 2013, the profession had a net gain of 6,571 CNAs for a total of 46,811 in the state.   
  • Colorado has about 2,400 active physician assistants – with 412 in Denver County alone. This is a 54.2 percent increase from the 2008 count of 1,564.
  • The number of licensed social workers in the state decreased by 67 in 2013. This is the first net decrease in the number of licensed social workers since at least 2008. Colorado has 657 licensed social workers.
  • The state has seen a consistent increase of about 200 licensed physical therapists each year since 2009. However, the net gain of physical therapists –reflecting both the professionals who have become newly licensed in the state and those who are no longer licensed – has varied greatly. The net gain in 2012 was 329 therapists compared to 27 physical therapists in 2013.

All data have been geocoded by county, though it should be noted that the counts are based on the mailing address in the licensure file, so we don’t know whether an address is a home or a practice location.

County-level workforce capacity has been a focus of CHI analyses in the past few months. CHI’s publicationColorado’s Primary Care Workforce: A Study of Regional Differences – indicates that while many areas have enough primary care physicians for the population, others might not have enough. A CHI publication from December Location Matters: Colorado Data on Medicaid Enrollees and Dental Providers at the County Level – examines the capacity of the state’s dental workforce to take on the influx of Medicaid enrollees resulting from the Affordable Care Act.

The bottom line? Location matters.

Besides workforce information, you’ll find updated numbers on health coverage and the uninsured and demographics in our data repository. Check out our County Health Profiles map to see data from all three categories on the county level.  

CHI will continue to update data on our website throughout the year as the information becomes available. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest data. 

Tamara is a Policy Analyst at CHI.