Access to primary care is an important issue in our healthcare delivery system with specific economic ramifications. Individuals without access to primary healthcare or regular sources of care do not receive timely care to prevent illness, control an acute episode or manage a chronic condition. Unattended problems result in severe episodes of otherwise manageable and preventable disorders leading to the use of more expensive treatment options, increased hospital admissions and use of emergency departments instead of outpatient sites and clinics, which contributes to the increased overall cost healthcare.
To provide health planners and other key stakeholders with data that helps them better target geographic areas and communities with most significant access problems, NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust conducted the first phase of a multi-year study that examined geographic distributions of hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions in New Jersey counties and zip codes using small area variation analysis. The second phase currently is under development and aims to identify areas and populations with significant problems accessing primary healthcare services in New Jersey and examine the nature of these problems and barriers, with the purpose of encouraging development of more program interventions to remove barriers and improve the primary care delivery system.