Health Care Utilization
Posted by Winniem on October 23rd, 2018
Several factors influence the access to and usage of healthcare. The first is the socio-economic status (SES) of a community. The SES of a community is a composite measure based on factors such as education, income, and demographic characteristics such as sex, age, and ethnicity. SES influences usage of health care as it relates to aspects such as need, recognition, knowledge of diseases and the need to access healthcare services. Individuals with low SES experience a high degree of illness and mortality, especially among infants and children. Education and income levels also influence access and usage of health care (Sorensen, 2012). High education and revenue levels mean a high use of health care services.
The well-educated individual is well-informed on diseases, access to health care services and its importance. In contrast, a person with minimal education may be uninformed on preventive and curative healthcare thus delaying access to health services when needed. Illiteracy and lack of finances can result in poor health outcomes due to ignorance and lack of adequate information. The second factor that can influence access and usage of healthcare is the supply of healthcare personnel. A population may be willing to access healthcare services, but the facility may lack physicians and nurses needed to deliver the services.
An increase in healthcare professionals in a community results to an increased in healthcare utilization. Unfortunately, a shortage of the healthcare professionals means that the community will not have access to critical health services when they need them (Wang, 2012). Similarly, it would mean that the community would be less informed on available services thus a prevalence of preventable diseases. A community is encouraged to use healthcare services when facilities have adequate healthcare professionals.
A lack of or delayed access to healthcare can have an adverse impact on an individual. According to Prentice & Pizer (2007), delayed access to health care increases the use of emergency rooms for non-urgent medical conditions. Diseases are best managed at their onset thus the need for individuals to seek medical attention as soon as they notice the initial symptoms of an illness. Unfortunately, delays in seeking the services result to the worsening of medical conditions that would have been handled easily.
Delayed access to healthcare services can also result to decreased patient satisfaction especially if the delay is a result of the inefficiencies of the health care facility. Patients visit healthcare facilities with the expectation of prompt and quality health services. Failure to delivery prompt and quality services decreases patient satisfaction. The wait-time at healthcare facilities should be minimal so as to enhance prompt care. For instance, a patient’s health can deteriorate due to a high fever that goes unattended as the patient waits to see a doctor. Delayed access to healthcare services results in poor health outcomes (Wang, 2012). Cancer is an example of a treatable condition if diagnosis and treatment are made early. Unfortunately, delays can mean that the cancerous cells progress and spread through the patient body until treatment is impossible. A patient can ignore recurring symptoms until when they become painful and unbearable. Unfortunately, in such situation, the diseases could have advanced to non-treatable levels.
Prentice, J. & Pizer, S. (2007). Delayed access to health care and mortality. Health services research. Vol.42(2):644-662
Sorensen, K., et, al. (2012). Health literacy and public health. BMC public health, 12(1), 1
Wang, F. (2012). Measurement, optimization, and impact of health care accessibility: a methodological review. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102(5), 1104-1112Healthcare Services, Delayed Access, Healthcare Professionals, Socio Economic, Services, Healthcare, Care
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