The impact of rural hospital closures on equity of commuting time for haemodialysis patients: simulation analysis using the capacity-distance model

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Abstract

Background: Frequent and long-term commuting is a requirement for dialysis patients. Accessibility thus affects their quality of lives. In this paper, a new model for accessibility measurement is proposed in which both geographic distance and facility capacity are taken into account. Simulation of closure of rural facilities and that of capacity transfer between urban and rural facilities are conducted to evaluate the impacts of these phenomena on equity of accessibility among dialysis patients.Methods: Post code information as of August 2011 of all the 7,374 patients certified by municipalities of Hiroshima prefecture as having first or third grade renal disability were collected. Information on post code and the maximum number of outpatients (capacity) of all the 98 dialysis facilities were also collected. Using geographic information systems, patient commuting times were calculated in two models: one that takes into account road distance (distance model), and the other that takes into account both the road distance and facility capacity (capacity-distance model). Simulations of closures of rural and urban facilities were then conducted.Results: The median commuting time among rural patients was more than twice as long as that among urban patients (15 versus 7 minutes, p < 0.001). In the capacity-distance model 36.1% of patients commuted to the facilities which were different from the facilities in the distance model, creating a substantial gap of commuting time between the two models. In the simulation, when five rural public facilitiess were closed, Gini coefficient of commuting times among the patients increased by 16%, indicating a substantial worsening of equity, and the number of patients with commuting times longer than 90 minutes increased by 72 times. In contrast, closure of four urban public facilities with similar capacities did not affect these values.Conclusions: Closures of dialysis facilities in rural areas have a substantially larger impact on equity of commuting times among dialysis patients than closures of urban facilities. The accessibility simulations using thecapacity-distance model will provide an analytic framework upon which rational resource distribution policies might be planned. © 2012 Matsumoto et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Matsumoto, M., Ogawa, T., Kashima, S., & Takeuchi, K. (2012). The impact of rural hospital closures on equity of commuting time for haemodialysis patients: simulation analysis using the capacity-distance model. International Journal of Health Geographics, 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-072X-11-28

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