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Lonhala Magnair

Developing Community Health Resources Entices More Elderly Patients to Seek Hospital Care Locally

Hospitalization for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions (ACSCs) like hypertension and asthma is typically preventable with proper ambulatory care. In fact, ACSC hospitalization rates in a local area are often viewed as an indicator of access to primary care.

Elderly patients with ACSCs are more likely to seek hospital care within their local markets if there is a greater availability of community resources, according to researchers. Both individual (severity of illness, insurance status) and community factors (availability of primary care and hospital care) can affect whether Medicare patients with ACSCs travel outside their local markets for hospital care.

Researchers found more than any other provider or critical access hospital variables, local median household income and inpatient hospital capacity affected Medicare patients’ decision for a distant hospitalization across the rural-urban continuum. Higher local median household incomes led to more out-of-area travel, while greater local inpatient capacity led patients to seek care at local hospitals.

Read the full report at Basu and Mobley (2009). Impact of local resources on hospitalization patterns of Medicare beneficiaries and propensity to travel outside local markets. Journal of Rural Health, 26, 20-29.

From the GAPNA Newsletter: Fall 2010, Volume 29, Number 3.

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