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Gesundheitswesen. 2016 Oct 18. [Epub ahead of print]

[Network Analyses in Regional Health Care Research: Example of Dermatological Care in the Metropolitan Region of Hamburg].

[Article in German]

Author information

Institut für Versorgungsforschung in der Dermatologie und bei Pflegeberufen (IVDP), Universitatsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg.
Hochschule RheinMain, Hochschule RheinMain, Mainz.
Abteilung Kartografie, Geografisches Institut, Georg-August-Universität Gottingen, GIS und Fernerkundung, Gottingen.


Background: One of the overall objectives of the legislator is to ensure an overall "homogeneous", and easily accessible medical care for the population. The physician-patient ratio can be used to describe the regional health care situation. But this method does not provide information concerning the availability of, for instance, the nearest doctor. Therefore, further parameters such as accessibility must be taken into consideration. For this purpose, network analyses are an appropriate method. The objective of this study is to present methodological tools to evaluate the healthcare situation in the metropolitan region of Hamburg, primarily focusing on accessibility using dermatologists as an example. Methods: Analyzing data of 20 counties, the geographical distribution of N=357 dermatologists and the physician-patient ratio were calculated. In a second step, a network analysis regarding accessibility was performed. In order to calculate accessibility, address data (physicians) were transformed into coordinates, consisting of defined places (N=303) and restrictions (e. g. speed, turn restrictions) of the network. The calculation of population-based accessibility is based on grid cells for the population density. Results: Despite adequacy of the overall medical situation, differences in the availability of the nearest dermatologists in the metropolitan region are remarkable, particularly when use of public transport is taken into consideration. In some counties, over 60% of the population require at least one hour to get to the nearest dermatologist using public transportation. In rural regions within the metropolitan area are particularly affected. Conclusion: The network analysis has shown that the choice and availability of transportation in combination with the location (rural/urban) is essential for health care access. Especially elderly people in rural areas with restricted mobility are at a disadvantage. Therefore, modern health care approaches (e. g. telemedicine) are necessary to optimize the health care situation in rural areas. Network analyses can make a valuable methodological contribution to the analysis of regional health care disparities.


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