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.



Erlanger Health System Hosts 5th Annual OBGYN Conference In March

Registration is open for the fifth annual Erlanger Health System OBGYN Conference for nurses and physicians on  March 8 and 9 . This year, the conference features key note speaker Lisa A. Miller, CNM, JD founder of Perinatal Risk Management and Education Services (PREMES). Ms. Miller, a certified nurse-midwife for more than 30 years and an attorney since 1990, has ... (click for more)

Tennessee Department Of Health Announces 8 Pediatric Deaths And 1 Pregnancy-Related Death Due To The Flu

The Tennessee Department of Health has been notified of eight pediatric deaths and one pregnancy-related death associated with seasonal flu during the 2017-2018 flu season. Officials said, "We continue to send our deepest condolences to the families who have lost a loved one due to influenza."   Free flu vaccine is still available at all TDH public health clinics, ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In Accident Involving 18-Wheeler On Ochs Highway

A person was killed Saturday morning on Ochs Highway. An 18-wheeler was coming down the mountain, and hit three cars traveling up the mountain. It was reported the over-turned truck contained 35,000 gallons of chemicals, and evacuations of homes nearby were happening. Ochs Highway was closed in both directions, and HAZMAT crews were at the scene. More information will follow. (click for more)

Erlanger, UT Medical Say Working To Resolve Issues

Erlanger Health System and University of Tennessee College of Medicine officials said they are working through some issues, but expect to maintain their long-standing relationship. The entities said they "are facing a number of historic matters that are being addressed in a proactive manner. Our intentions are to transition to a more contemporary model, thereby enhancing ... (click for more)

The Right To Bear Arms, But Not Assault Rifles - And Response (2)

I am not a bleeding heart, liberal, left leaning, anti-second amendment person. I am a politically moderate conservative who believes in the right to bear arms, but not assault rifles. I am also a retired school principal who is tired of seeing innocent children slaughtered in our schools. I am also tired of nothing being done. Yes, mental health should be considered when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It wasn’t lost on me that during Valentine Week, when we most remember those we love, this first story was included in my weekly email. As has become my habit, every Saturday I try to come up with a new edition of The Saturday Funnies because I get some delightful ones that are shared by my friends during the week. We must never waste a giggle. So in keeping with my ... (click for more)