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Wang KH, Goulet JL, Carroll CM, Skanderson M, Fodeh S, Erdos J, Womack JA, Abel EA, Bathulapalli H, Justice AC, Nunez-Smith M, Brandt CA. Estimating healthcare mobility in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. BMC health services research. 2016 Oct 21; 16(1):609.
BACKGROUND: Healthcare mobility, defined as healthcare utilization in more than one distinct healthcare system, may have detrimental effects on outcomes of care. We characterized healthcare mobility and associated characteristics among a national sample of Veterans. METHODS: Using the Veterans Health Administration Electronic Health Record, we conducted a retrospective cohort study to quantify healthcare mobility within a four year period. We examined the association between sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and healthcare mobility, and characterized possible temporal and geographic patterns of healthcare mobility. RESULTS: Approximately nine percent of the sample were healthcare mobile. Younger Veterans, divorced or separated Veterans, and those with hepatitis C virus and psychiatric disorders were more likely to be healthcare mobile. We demonstrated two possible patterns of healthcare mobility, related to specialty care and lifestyle, in which Veterans repeatedly utilized two different healthcare systems. CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare mobility is associated with young age, marital status changes, and also diseases requiring intensive management. This type of mobility may affect disease prevention and management and has implications for healthcare systems that seek to improve population health.