Access to Care

Our goal within this focus area is that every community in North Carolina’s primary and behavioral health needs are served by a talented, engaged, diverse, and robust workforce

Overall Perspective

Nearly three million people in North Carolina live in places deemed health professional shortage areas.  And in 2021, the state ranked 25th in access to primary care and 26th in access to mental health providers by population - with significant, and increasing, gaps between rural and non-rural areas among all provider types. For North Carolina to be a place where everyone has a fair opportunity for to be as healthy as possible, we must develop and invest in solutions bolstering the health care workforce and breaking down barriers to care.

Strategic Approach and Current Focus 

Increased access to behavioral health and primary care will require a focus on the training, recruitment, composition, and deployment of our health workforce. It is also essential that priority be placed on efforts that increase access in historically marginalized communities including in rural areas and communities of color in order to address long-standing inequities in health outcomes and economic opportunity created and perpetuated by culture, practice, and policy that influences the behavior of educational institutions, consumers, health care systems, payers, and providers.

As such, we are focused on both identifying and spreading models that address workforce shortages and distribution and supporting policy analysis that contributes to the ongoing evolution of a more equitable health care system, including:

  • Addressing shortages, maldistribution, and diversity in the workforce to diagnose and treat disease, including physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses.
  • Addressing shortages, maldistribution, and diversity specifically in the nursing workforce.
  • Increasing and improving training, employment opportunities, and career ladders in the workforce of community health workers, peer support, and others expanding access.

As an emerging focus area of our organization, much of our early work is centered on engagement, education, analysis, and planning. A few examples include:

  • Engaging key stakeholders and workgroups to explore strategy and partnership alignment and to begin developing potential funding opportunities.
  • Investing in a statewide scan of promising, locally focused partnerships - such as those between community colleges and health systems - that can be lifted up as models for scaling and spreading.
  • Developing policy analysis of the scope of practice challenges and opportunities related to the delivery of primary, behavioral health, and perinatal care.

In More Detail

View our Access to Care Dashboard for a visual summary of key components of our work in this focus area.

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Contact Us

Katie Eyes
Vice President, Program and Strategy