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BMC Health Serv Res ; 22(1): 1364, 2022 Nov 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2115847


OBJECTIVE: Primary health care (PHC) is widely perceived to be the backbone of health care systems. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, PHC has not only provided primary medical services, but also served as a grassroots network for public health. Our research explored the accessibility, availability, and affordability of primary health care from a spatial perspective, to understand the social determinants affecting access to it in Hong Kong. METHOD: This constitutes a descriptive study from the perspective of spatial analysis. The nearest neighbor method was used to measure the geographic accessibility of PHC based on the road network. The 2SFCA method was used to measure spatial availability and affordability to primary health care, while the SARAR model, Spatial Error model, and Spatial Lag model were then constructed to explain potential factors influencing accessibility and availability of PHC. RESULTS: In terms of accessibility, 95% of residents in Hong Kong can reach a PHC institution within 15 minutes; in terms of availability, 83% of residents can receive PHC service within a month; while in terms of affordability, only 32% of residents can afford PHC services with the support of medical insurance and medical voucher. In Hong Kong, education status and household income show a significant impact on accessibility and availability of PHC. Regions with higher concentrations of residents with post-secondary education receive more PHC resources, while regions with higher concentrations of high-income households show poorer accessibility and poorer availability to PHC. CONCLUSION: The good accessibility and availability of primary health care reflects that the network layout of existing PHC systems in Hong Kong is reasonable and can meet the needs of most residents. No serious gap between social groups further shows equality in resource allocation of PHC in Hong Kong. However, affordability of PHC is not ideal. Indeed, narrowing the gap between availability and affordability is key to fully utilizing the capacity of the PHC system in Hong Kong. The private sector plays an important role in this, but the low coverage of medical insurance in outpatient services exacerbates the crowding of public PHC and underutilization of private PHC. We suggest diverting patients from public to private institutions through medical insurance, medical vouchers, or other ways, to relieve the pressure on the public health system and make full use of existing primary health care in Hong Kong.

COVID-19 , Primary Health Care , Social Determinants of Health , Humans , Costs and Cost Analysis , COVID-19/epidemiology , Hong Kong/epidemiology , Spatial Analysis , Health Services Accessibility , Healthcare Disparities