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.


Legislation To Address Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Cancer Patients Heard In Senate Committee

The Cancer Treatment Fairness Act, SB2091/HB2239, was before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Tuesday. Committee members heard testimony from a variety of sources about the benefits of the bill that allows cancer patients to get the treatment that is determined by their doctor to be the best option without out-of-pocket costs being a deterrent, said officials.  Bill ... (click for more)

Northside Neighborhood House Receives Gift From Food Lion

Northside Neighborhood House has received $1,000 from the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation to help feed and provide education to local residents. Northside Neighborhood House will use the gift for its Healthy Families Program, which offers cooking classes and family dinner nights.  “The NNH is so grateful for this support from Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation,” ... (click for more)

Charges Will Not Be Filed Against Officers In Javario Eagle Case

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said Wednesday he will not file charges against the six Chattanooga Police Department officers involved in the Dec. 12, 2015, fatal shooting of Javario Eagle.  His office said, "An investigation conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office found use of deadly force by officers Lorin Johnston, Allen Griffith, Tim McFarland, Mitchell ... (click for more)

Medal Of Honor Museum Hopes To Finally Find Permanent Home At Coolidge Park

Officials of the National Medal of Honor Museum said Wednesday they hope to finally find a permanent home at Coolidge Park. Bill Raines said it is planned to build a two-story, 6,800-square-foot domed museum on two acres at the park. It will be dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient Charles H. Coolidge, who is now 94. There will be a sculpture of Mr. Coolidge - for whom the ... (click for more)

What Our Schools Are And Have Been Doing About Bullying

Bullying has been a widely discussed topic during the last few weeks in the wake of the incident involving the Ooltewah High basketball team.  Contrary to public opinion, Hamilton County Schools have not been passive in our efforts to address bullying now or for the past several years.  Unfortunately, bullying is a societal norm that is infiltrating our school community, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Grab The Reaching Hand

Three of Tennessee’s largest four cities are now searching for school superintendents. Jesse Register retired last June and, after botching the first attempt, Nashville city leaders are intensely helping the Board of Education in a search for the best candidate. In Knoxville and Chattanooga the superintendents have resigned, both under a cloud, and now the leaders of the ‘2.0’ initiative ... (click for more)