Lippi Bruni M., Mammi I., Ugolini C. (2016).

Does the extension of primary care practice opening hours reduce the use of emergency services?. JOURNAL OF HEALTH ECONOMICS, vol. 50, pp. 144-155 (ISSN 0167-6296).



Overcrowding in emergency departments generates potential inefficiencies. Using regional administrative data, we investigate the impact that an increase in the accessibility of primary care has on emergency visits in Italy. We consider two measures of avoidable emergency visits recorded at list level for each General Practitioner. We test whether extending practices’ opening hours to up to 12 hours/day reduces the inappropriate utilization of emergency services. Since subscribing to the extension program is voluntary, we account for the potential endogeneity of participation in a count model for emergency admissions in two ways: first, we use a two-stage residual inclusion approach. Then we exploit panel methods on data covering a three-year period, thus accounting directly for individual heterogeneity. Our results show that increasing primary care accessibility acts as a restraint on the inappropriate use of emergency departments. The estimated effect is in the range of a 10-15% reduction in inappropriate admissions.