Shortage Designation Application and Scoring Process


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Shortage Designation Modernization Project
We are modernizing the shortage designation process with automated procedures and standardized data sets.

State Primary Care Offices (PCOs) submit applications to HRSA for most shortage designations in their state.

PCOs are the primary state contact for our Shortage Designation Branch (SDB), and they have access to the online Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS) application and review system.

MUA/P & HPSA Application Processes

Auto-HPSA Review Process

Based on the statutes and regulations governing shortage designation, we automatically designate certain facilities as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Auto-HPSAs do not need to submit an application for designation, but may need to submit data to us to calculate their facility’s HPSA score.

How do we use the Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS)?

PCOs use SDMS to manage health workforce data for their states and apply for HPSAs and MUAs/Ps. We use SDMS to review shortage designation applications, communicate with the PCOs on specific applications, and make final shortage designation determinations.

We base SDMS business rules on shortage designation’s governing statutes and regulations, as well as our own policies and procedures of our Division of Policy and Shortage Designation (DPSD).

How does SDMS determine eligibility and scoring?

The SDMS uses standard national data sets, including:

  • National Provider Identifier (NPI) for provider data 
  • Environmental System Research Institute (ESRI) for mapping data 
  • Census for demographic data
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Vital Statistics for health related data

We rely on state PCOs to verify and supplement the NPI data by adding provider-level data points required for shortage designation purposes. These data points include:

  • Whether or not the provider is actively engaged in clinical practice
  • Additional provider practice locations
  • Hours worked at each location
  • Populations served
  • Amount of time a provider spends serving specific populations

Depending on the type of designation requested, PCOs may also need to provide additional health and demographic data for which standard national data sets with the sensitivity and specificity required for shortage designation do not currently exist.

Date Last Reviewed:  May 2019

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