Shortage Designation Application and Scoring Process

State Primary Care Offices (PCOs) submit applications to us for most shortage designations in their state. We then use the online Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS) to review applications and make determinations.

Modernization Project

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

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MUA/P & HPSA Application Processes

Auto-HPSA Review Process

Automatically-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (Auto-HPSAs)

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. However, they may need to submit data to us to calculate their facility’s HPSA score.

How we use the Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS)

  • Primary Care Offices use SDMS:
    • To manage health workforce data for their states
    • To apply for HPSAs and MUAs/Ps
  • We use SDMS:
    • To review shortage designation applications
    • To communicate with the PCOs on specific applications
    • To make final shortage designation determinations

We base SDMS business rules on shortage designation’s governing statutes and regulations. And we base them on our own policies and procedures.

How the SDMS determines 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:  July 2019


Contact Us

Shortage designation questions?
Email us, or call 301-594-5168

Shortage Designation Modernization Project questions?
Email us

Questions about providers in your Auto-HPSA update preview?
Contact your State PCO

NHSC or Nurse Corps questions?
Email us or call 1-800-221-9393

CMS Bonus Payment questions?
Contact your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC)

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