245081 Mapping the gaps: How actively do local health departments assess and address gaps in access to healthcare?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:30 AM

Gulzar Shah, PhD, MStat, MS , Health Policy and Management, Georgia Southern University, Jiann-Ping Hsu Collegf Public Health, Statesboro, GA
Carolyn J. Leep, MS, MPH , National Association of County and City Health Officials, Washington, DC
Riju Stephen, MS , Office of Health Planning, Evaluation and Program Development, Houston Department of Health and Human Services, Houston, TX
Background: Assessing gaps in access to primary care, particularly among underserved populations is an important first step in effectively promoting healthy communities and healthy minds. Proactively assessing the community level service gaps in primary care can fuel policies that will not only guide public health interventions to address primary care gaps in coverage of underserved populations, it will also lead to a long term reduction in healthcare cost. National level studies assessing the extent to which local health departments (LHDs) engage in assessing and addressing gaps in community level primary care are important but non-existent to our knowledge. Objectives/purpose: (a) Examine the level and variation among LHDs in assessing and addressing gaps in medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare within their jurisdictions and implementing strategies to target healthcare needs of underserved populations. (b) Use LHDs GIS shape files to map the gaps. Methods: This study uses data from NACCHO's 2010 National Profile of Local Health Departments (Profile) Survey completed in November of 2010. We will display the geographic variations through maps, using LHD level GIS shape files we have recently developed here at NACCHO. Results: Our preliminary analysis shows that, in the past year, 69 percent of LHDs did assess the gaps in access to services in any of the three categories medical, dental, behavioral. Fifty-one percent addressed the gaps through direct provision of services in at least one of the three healthcare categories. A larger majority (70%) implemented strategies to increase accessibility of existing services in at least one of the three healthcare categories. An equal proportion (70%) implemented strategies to target healthcare needs of underserved populations. Discussion/conclusion: Examining and geographically displaying variation in LHD's engagement in assessing and addressing gaps in community level access to healthcare have important implications for local public health practice and policy.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. By the end of the session, participants will be able to describe the extent to which LHDs assess and address the gaps in access to care in their jurisdictions. 2. The participants will be able to explain the extent to which LHDs are implementing strategies to target healthcare needs of underserved populations. 3. Participants will be able to name and explain the geographic and other sources of variation in LHDs strategies to address the gaps in healthcare. 4. Participants will be able to discuss how LHD shape files can be used to visually highlight variations among LHDs.

Keywords: Access to Health Care, Local Public Health Agencies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary contributor to the original research proposed for presentation and among the lead staff for projects from which data are drawn for this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.