News & Research

Patient Visits Higher at Rural Emergency Departments


Summer 2019
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Visits per 100 people chart

For some patients, the local emergency department is their main source for health care. A recent study examined emergency department visits from 2005-2016 and found that rural emergency department visits increased dramatically over that 12-year period.

They rose from 36.5 to 64.5 visits per 100 people, compared with urban visits, which increased from 40.2 to 42.8. 

“Patterns of use of emergency departments by populations are important indicators of their health care needs. Increased reliance on emergency departments for health care by rural populations may reflect increased health care needs or challenges in access to alternative sources of outpatient care,” says study co-author Margaret Greenwood-Ericksen (M.Sc. 2018), M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine and health services researcher at the University of New Mexico. The study was conducted when she was a fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

The study, published in JAMA Open Network, used visit data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Keith Kocher, M.D. (Residency 2007), MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine, co-authored the study.