Access to Care
Communities throughout the United States are experiencing physician-shortage issues, and it’s among the most urgent health-related issues in Indiana. IU School of Medicine is addressing access to care in Indiana as a top priority in the school’s new strategic plan.
Expanding Local Expertise
Through expanded residency programs, specialty provider training, tele-medicine support and other innovative initiatives, IU School of Medicine is acutely focused on addressing Indiana’s health care workforce problems across communities, which hit rural areas especially hard. The school’s nine-campus system and strong statewide partnership with Indiana’s largest health care system, Indiana University Health, enables faculty and learners to influence access to care and improve the lives of patients throughout the state.
State of Indiana’s Health Workforce
The Bowen Center for Health Workforce Research and Policy is improving the state’s ability to understand its health care workforce shortages by developing data tools and improving how it tracks provider availability and engagement. In the Indiana Physician Licensure Data Report, the center indicates, in 2017, more than half of Indiana counties lacked adequate access to behavioral health providers, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, addiction counselors, and marriage and family therapists.
Data Source: Indiana Physician Licensure Data Report (2017)
By expanding residency training to communities outside of Indianapolis throughout the state and continuously improving a long-standing rural medicine program for MD students at its Terre Haute campus, IU School of Medicine is working diligently to improve access to care in Indiana.
IU School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine is part of the Southwest Consortium, based in Evansville, which has developed an ACGME-accredited residency training program to provide general internal medicine specialists to the southwest Indiana region. This expanded and collaborative model of collective competence is particularly tailored to the rural, under-served regions of southwest Indiana. The Southwest Internal Medicine Residency Program begins its first resident class in July 2020.
The Rural Medical Education Program at IU School of Medicine-Terre Haute integrates basic and clinical sciences with a focus on rural medicine. This unique focus for the MD program promotes an appreciation, understanding and respect for the rural practitioner and the rural patient and equips medical students with skills and experiences unique to rural medicine. The program prepares physicians who are both well-prepared for medical practice in a rural setting.
The IU School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine is expanding residency training throughout the state. Graduate medical education programs in family medicine are available in Lafayette, Jasper and Indianapolis.
At IU School of Medicine, individual faculty and research centers are focused on collecting data and investigating care-delivery models and outcomes to help Indiana overcome access to care and other issues related to health care workforce shortages.
The IU School of Medicine’s Bowen Center provides reliable and timely data on Indiana’s health workforce in order to support data-driven policy development and to inform decisions at both the state and local levels. The center collaborates with governmental organizations, health professional training programs, provider organizations and non-profit agencies at local, state and national levels to evaluate the implementation, effectiveness and impact of their programs on health care access and delivery.
Through partnerships with hospitals and other clinical facilities through the state, student outreach clinics, and application of innovative technology and creative thinking, IU School of Medicine is making it easier for people in communities throughout Indiana to access appropriate health and medical care.
Research shows that early diagnosis and intervention can significantly improve the quality of life of children with autism. Despite that, the average age of diagnosis for children in Indiana is over 5 years old—well above the Healthy People 2020 goal of 36 months old. The Department of Pediatrics is leading the development of solutions. Beginning in 2012, the department created an innovative network of 14 Early Evaluation Hubs across Indiana, stretching from South Bend to Evansville. In 2018, community-based providers at these hubs evaluated more than 900 children. Notably, children seen in the hubs are receiving their diagnoses of autism and/or developmental delay before age 3. The goal is to continue to expand this hub model and to further develop a navigation system for families to access evidence-based interventions in a timely manner after their child’s diagnosis.
The Indiana Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network enhances access to quality health care, primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community/academic educational partnerships. The Indiana AHEC Network office is located within the Department of Family Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Comprised of eight regional centers, this network serves the needs of Indiana communities by providing pipeline programming, clinical rotations in rural and underserved areas, and continuing education opportunities to practicing health professionals.
IU School of Medicine offers Student Outreach Clinics in Indianapolis, South Bend and Terre Haute as part of the medical service learning program. Each clinic is designed to improve health care in under-served communities.
The Department of Psychiatry initiated a program known as the CHOICE Program which places IU School of Medicine faculty members in large, busy, primary care practices. This is a form of “integrated-collaborative care” that greatly expands mental health providers’ ability to reach patients with mental health needs. Approximately 70 percent of patients with mental health needs are seen in primary care practices rather than in psychiatry/psychology practices. The school is planning for an expansion of this program.