Modelling rural health care access to support rural residency planning

Authors: Jamison Conley*, West Virginia University, Insu Hong, West Virginia University, Amber Williams, West Virginia University, Rachael Taylor, West Virginia University, Thomson Gross, West Virginia University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: rural health, health care, access
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Many places within rural America lack ready access to health care facilities. Medical schools can help to remedy this situation through rural residency programs, in which medical school residents complete all or part of their residency training in rural areas. However, both the access to health care and the need for health care is not uniform across all rural regions. Using West Virginia as a case study, we model these factors to identify areas where there is a need for rural health care.

Prior work on this project, West Virginia HealthLink, used a combination of demographic and spatial information to identify census block groups within West Virginia which may suffer from either a lack of spatial access to primary health care providers, demographic barriers to accessing nearby facilities, or both. In this work, we improve the access model by incorporating a wider range of demographic information and a more accurate measurement of spatial access which incorporates average travel times collected through queries in the Google Maps API.

We collaborate with medical schools in West Virginia to refine the health care access model to assist with the placement of rural rotation residents. Lastly, we also work with the medical schools to improve the utility of the online presentation of the results to ensure it is as easy for them to use as possible when making these decisions about rural rotation placement.

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