Background — Although regional variations in the use of many health care services have been reported, little attention has been devoted to home care practices. Given the dramatic shift in care settings from hospitals to private homes, it is important to determine the extent to which home care practices vary by geographic region.
Methods — Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Ontario Home Care Administration System database were used to assess regional variations in rates of home care use following inpatient care and same-day surgery for the fiscal years 1993, 1994 and 1995. Various measures of regional variation were employed.
Results — Of the 2 870 695 inpatient separations and 1 803 307 same-day surgery separations during the study period, 359 972 and 64 541, respectively, were followed by home care. The rate of home care use per 100 separations was 12.5 for inpatients and 3.6 for same-day surgery patients. There was a a 3.5-fold regional variation in the rates of home care use following inpatient care and a 7-fold variation in rates of use following same-day surgery. Additional home care funding to attain calculated target rates was estimated to be $48.9 million (30% of expenditures for patients recently discharged from hospital over the study period). For a 20% increase in service provision it was estimated that an additional injection of $42.2 million is required.
Interpretation — The wide regional variations in rates of home care use highlight the importance of modifying home care funding to ensure that all residents of Ontario have equal access to services. To achieve this our estimates suggest that a substantial increase in home care funding is warranted.
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Access to health care
Community health services