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A Roadmap for Enhancing State Health
Workforce Data

Implementation Guide for the Cross-Profession Minimum Data Set

Making the Case for Health Workforce Data

Access to health workforce data is essential to inform various aspects of policy and programs, such as identifying health workforce shortage areas, planning for educational programs for regulatory policy changes, forecasting employment demands, and justifying funding requests. Detailed information about the health workforce is necessary to evaluate existing programs and to plan for future needs.

Health workforce policy and planning cannot be done in a silo. The health workforce includes an array of professions, differing in training, focus, and scope. Some contributions are unique, others overlap, many are synergistic. Regardless of differences or similarities, all health professions share a common mission to contribute to the health of the people and communities they serve. When the contributions of different health professions are coordinated and synergies in care are achieved, patient outcomes can be improved. Consistent workforce data across health professions is needed to inform policy and planning. 

What has been done, and where are the gaps?

Health workforce data collection has been a national priority for decades. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in collaboration with national organizations, established minimum data set survey tools for several health professions in 2013. Great care was taken to develop surveys that met the data needs of each respective profession, but unfortunately, coordination between professions to ensure alignment across surveys for data elements common to all professions did not occur. Inconsistencies in data collection strategies (questions and response options) for data elements such as demographics threaten cross-profession comparison analysis. 

About the CPMDS

The CPMDS is a set of core questions for collecting data elements widely considered the “minimum necessary” for health workforce planning. The intent of the CPMDS is to serve as a framework for standardizing data collection across various health professions for the purpose of supporting within and between profession comparisons and analyses. As a framework, the CPMDS questions have been designed with varying levels of standardization. For example, the CPMDS provides standardized questions and response options for data elements that are consistent across the professions (e.g., demographics) but includes flexible questions and response options for data elements requiring customizations (e.g., specialty and setting). The CPMDS provides a framework upon which individual profession-specific tools can be developed.

Access the Toolkit

Supplementary Resources

Stakeholder-specific Informational Briefs

As of 2023, 36 states collect health workforce supply data, but only 28 states collect this data as a part of the licensing process, and there are wide variations on which profession types are included

Did you know?

A Call to Action

In the face of pervasive workforce shortages, health workforce data collection has emerged as a top national and state priority. Now, more than ever before, a Cross-Profession Minimum Data Set (CPMDS) is needed to ensure consistency, where appropriate, in health workforce data. In 2022, seven national organizations came together to review existing survey tools and prepare the CPMDS to serve as a resource to the federal and state governments, organizations, and researchers seeking to collect health workforce data. Broad adoption of the CPMDS will streamline current and support future initiatives by ensuring comparability across health professions data.  

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