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Association Between Primary Care Availability and EMS Utilization

      Abstract

      Background

      Emergency medical services contribute to the vital role of providing healthcare to an individual by delivering time-sensitive, episodic treatment to patients with acute illnesses. Understanding which factors impact emergency medical services utilization can help guide policies and allocate resources more effectively. Increasing primary care access has often been touted to decrease unnecessary emergency care utilization. This study seeks to determine if a relationship exists between access to primary care and EMS utilization

      Methods

      Using data from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System, Area Health Resources Files, and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, United States county-level data was analyzed to determine if increased access to primary care (and insurance coverage) was associated with decreased emergency medical services utilization.

      Results

      Higher primary care availability is associated with less emergency medical services utilization only when insurance coverage in the community surpassed 90%.

      Conclusion

      Insurance coverage can play an important role in decreasing emergency medical services utilization and may also impact the effect of increased PCP availability on EMS utilization in a region.

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