The Impact of Primary Care Provider Availability on Patient Care

26 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017

See all articles by Hessam Bavafa

Hessam Bavafa

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Business

Anne Canamucio

Veterans Health Administration - VA Healthcare-VISN 4

Steven Marcus

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice

Christian Terwiesch

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Rachel M. Werner

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Date Written: Jun 10, 2017

Abstract

Emergency room (ER) overcrowding and overuse are significant problems in the United States, and prior studies have shown that a large portion of ER patients could have been treated by a primary care provider. If this is the case, why do patients spend hours waiting in the ER for a problem that their primary care physician could have addressed? One common answer is that primary care providers are too busy to provide timely appointments, making the ER a more attractive alternative for their patients. In this paper, we use a large dataset from the Veterans Health Administration to shed light on this claim. Our empirical analyses reveal that decreased provider availability leads to increases in non-emergent ER visits (care not needed within 12 hours), but we find no evidence linking provider availability to emergent, primary care treatable ER visits. Overall, changes to provider availability can account for up to 2.4% of all ER visits. Decreased provider availability also leads to delays in routine care, as measured by the likelihood of a 30-day follow-up appointment after an ER visit.

Keywords: Health Care Operations, Primary Care, Access to Care, Emergency Room

Suggested Citation

Bavafa, Hessam and Canamucio, Anne and Marcus, Steven and Terwiesch, Christian and Werner, Rachel, The Impact of Primary Care Provider Availability on Patient Care (Jun 10, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2363706 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2363706

Hessam Bavafa (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Business ( email )

975 University Ave
4284C Grainger Hall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://bus.wisc.edu/faculty/hessam-bavafa

Anne Canamucio

Veterans Health Administration - VA Healthcare-VISN 4 ( email )

323 North Shore Drive
Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
United States

Steven Marcus

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

Christian Terwiesch

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Rachel Werner

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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