Finding a doctor depends on where you live

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A new study finds that some regions in Colorado have too few primary care physicians, while other regions have plenty of doctors to treat the patients who need them.

A new study by the Colorado Health Institute finds there is currently a pressing shortage of primary care physicians in some regions of the state, while other parts of Colorado have plenty of doctors.

According to the study, Denver County has 1,348 residents for each full-time practicing primary care physician.

However, the picture changes significantly a short drive to the east. In the region that includes rural Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln counties, there are 5,636 residents for each full-time primary care physician.

The study determined that an ideal primary physician-patient ratio was 1,900 residents for each doctor.

The study also found a regional disparity when it comes to the number of primary care doctors for Medicaid patients.

According to the research, the northwest region of the state that includes Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties has one primary care doctor to treat 694 Medicaid patients.

But, in the region that includes the Eastern Plains counties of Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln has only one primary care physician for 3,500 Medicaid patients.

The report recommends a variety of fixes for the shortage, including telemedicine and the hub-and-spoke model of care. Under that model, primary care doctors who work at a clinic travel to rural areas that don’t have a full-time physician.