Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 47 Number 6, 2010
   Pages 583 — 592

Abstract — Using geographic information system tools to improve access to MS specialty care in Veterans Health Administration

William J. Culpepper, II, PhD, MA;1-2* Diane Cowper-Ripley, PhD;3-4 Eric R. Litt, BA;3 Tzu-Yun McDowell, MA;1-2 Paul M. Hoffman, MD3-4

1Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence-East, Department of Veterans Affairs Maryland Healthcare System, Baltimore, MD; 2University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; 3Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center Research Enhancement Award Program, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, Gainesville, FL; 4University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL

Abstract — Access to appropriate and timely healthcare is critical to the overall health and well-being of patients with chronic diseases. In this study, we used geographic information system (GIS) tools to map Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their access to MS specialty care. We created six travel-time bands around VHA facilities with MS specialty care and calculated the number of VHA patients with MS who resided in each time band and the number of patients who lived more than 2 hours from the nearest specialty clinic in fiscal year 2007. We demonstrate the utility of using GIS tools in decision-making by providing three examples of how patients' access to care is affected when additional specialty clinics are added. The mapping technique used in this study provides a powerful and valuable tool for policy and planning personnel who are evaluating how to address underserved populations and areas within the VHA healthcare system.

Key words: access to care, geographic information system (GIS), healthcare, mapping techniques, multiple sclerosis, policy planning, travel time, veterans, Veterans Health Administration, VISN.

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Last Reviewed or Updated  Thursday, August 19, 2010 11:19 AM

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