The impact of hospital closures and hospital and population characteristics on increasing emergency department volume: A geographic analysis

David C. Lee, Brendan G. Carr, Tony E. Smith, Van C. Tran, Daniel Polsky, Charles C. Branas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emergency visits are rising nationally, whereas the number of emergency departments is shrinking. However, volume has not increased uniformly at all emergency departments. It is unclear what factors account for this variability in emergency volume growth rates. The objective of this study was to test the association of hospital and population characteristics and the effect of hospital closures with increases in emergency department volume. The study team analyzed emergency department volume at New York State hospitals from 2004 to 2010 using data from cost reports and administrative databases. Multivariate regression was used to evaluate characteristics associated with emergency volume growth. Spatial analytics and distances between hospitals were used in calculating the predicted impact of hospital closures on emergency department use. Among the 192 New York hospitals open from 2004 to 2010, the mean annual increase in emergency department visits was 2.7%, but the range was wide (-5.5% to 11.3%). Emergency volume increased nearly twice as fast at tertiary referral centers (4.8%) and nonurban hospitals (3.7% versus urban at 2.1%) after adjusting for other characteristics. The effect of hospital closures also strongly predicted variation in growth. Emergency volume is increasing faster at specific hospitals: tertiary referral centers, nonurban hospitals, and those near hospital closures. This study provides an understanding of how emergency volume varies among hospitals and predicts the effect of hospital closures in a statewide region. Understanding the impact of these factors on emergency department use is essential to ensure that these populations have access to critical emergency services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-466
Number of pages8
JournalPopulation health management
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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