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Do Avoidable Hospitalization Rates among Older Adults Differ by Geographic Access to Primary Care Physicians?

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Health Services Research

Published online on


Objective To investigate the association between older adults’ potentially avoidable hospitalization rates and both a geographic measure of primary care physician (PCP) access and a standard bounded‐area measure of PCP access. Data Sources State physician licensure data from the Virginia Board of Medicine. Patient‐level hospital discharge data from Virginia Health Information. Area‐level data from the American Community Survey and the Area Health Resources Files. Virginia Information Technologies Agency road network data. US Census Bureau TIGER/Line boundary files. Study Design We use enhanced two‐step floating catchment area methods to calculate geographic PCP accessibility for each ZIP Code Tabulation Area in Virginia. We use spatial regression techniques to model potentially avoidable hospitalization rates. Data Collection/Extraction Geographic accessibility was calculated using ArcGIS. Physician locations were geocoded using TAMU GeoServices and ArcGIS. Principal Findings Increased geographic access to PCPs is associated with lower rates of potentially avoidable hospitalization among older adults. This association is robust, allowing for spatial spillovers in spatial lag models. Conclusions Compared to bounded‐area density measures, unbounded geographic accessibility measures provide more robust evidence that avoidable hospitalization rates are lower in areas with more PCPs per person. Results from our spatial lag models reveal the presence of positive spatial spillovers.