Consumers Drive Past Rural Tennessee Hospitals For Care, Study Shows

Monday, September 10, 2012

Community hospitals in Tennessee are being bypassed frequently by those who live closest to them, as many residents instead seek care at larger facilities in more populated areas, a study by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Institute found.

“In simple terms, almost half of the people in rural areas are not using the hospital closest to them, preferring to go to a larger, non-rural hospital to get care, even if the same services are available locally,” states the issue brief, entitled Patterns of Care in Tennessee: Use of rural vs. non-rural facilities.

The BCBST Health Institute, formed in 2011, has released previous studies showing that the state faces a potential health care capacity crisis in the near future, so a logical next step was to examine actual patterns of care, according to Dr. Steven Coulter, president of the Institute.

“We hypothesized that geographic proximity to a health care facility would have a statistically significant influence on a patient’s ability to seek care,” Dr. Coulter said. “That hypothesis proved to be false.”

The issue brief does not reveal the reasons consumers are making these choices, but the results raise questions about the future viability of rural and small hospitals — results that those in the health care system, along with state and local policymakers, may wish to discuss.

The newly-completed issue brief marks a milestone in the evolution of the BCBST Health Institute’s work to explore health care issues in Tennessee. 

“In previous research, we’ve used publicly available data, but this marks the first time we’ve studied our own commercial claims data to identify patterns of health care,” Dr. Coulter said. “It’s important to continue to use BlueCross data in this manner to the public’s benefit.”

Previous research by the BCBST Health Institute took at look at the effect of federal health care reform on Tennessee, its effect on access to care for Tennessee’s minority population and its effect on prescription drug costs. Visit the Health Institute website to read about these topics.


Blood Assurance Makes Schedule Changes Due To Threat Of Inclement Weather

The threat of inclement weather across our region has led Blood Assurance to make changes to its schedule for this  Thursday . Blood Assurance donor centers and bloodmobiles are adjusting their hours of operation so team members and donors can arrive safely. The donor centers in Hixson, Johnson City, Cleveland, Downtown Chattanooga, East Brainerd, Dalton, Fort Oglethorpe, ... (click for more)

Fred's Super Dollar Stores Raise Money For Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

Fred’s Super Dollar stores have kicked off their 10th year raising funds Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Fred’s customers and team members are once again supporting patients treated at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger during the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Miracle Balloon fundraiser.   Funds raised now through  April 5  will provide medical ... (click for more)

Judge Orders Cortez Sims Tried As Adult After Emotional Testimony At Juvenile Court In Shooting Of 4

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw on Thursday morning ordered that 17-year-old Cortez Sims be tried as an adult in a College Hill Courts shooting that left one woman dead, a toddler paralyzed, and two others wounded. The order was given after emotional testimony from two of the victims in the Jan. 7 early morning mass shooting at 773 W. Main St. Bianca Horton and Marcell "Baby ... (click for more)

EPB Lays Out Plans To Provide All Of Bradley County With High-Speed Internet, TV Service; Cost Is Up To $60 Million

In what was hailed as a big win for rural Bradley Countians, EPB officials laid out a plan Thursday night to reach the community with currently unavailable high-speed internet. EPB CEO Harold DePrist told a capacity crowd at the Bradley County Courthouse that the expansion would serve roughly 1,000 people, about 800 of whom have no current option other than dial-up. The ... (click for more)

How To Kill Small Business And Education In Chattanooga

   I would just like to say that the weathermen of Chattanooga have done something I thought only a union could do. They have undone all the economic good that VW has brought to our area. Their erroneous and hysteric forecasts are in my opinion purposefully done to benefit their corporate owners so viewers and readers flock to their felonious broadcasts and yellow ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: America’s Newest Darling

Minutes after I read a letter on Rebekah Gregory’s Facebook page yesterday, I was mere seconds from summoning the marching band, our prancing elephants, and the flag-bearers so we could rightfully induct this dazzling survivor of the Boston Marathon blast into my personal Hall of Fame. I do that, you know, when I see everyday people display courage, kindness, guts, brilliance, ... (click for more)