Ugolini C., Lippi Bruni M., Mammi I., Donatini A., Fiorentini G. (2016).

Dealing with minor illnesses: The link between primary care characteristics and Walk-in Centres’ attendances in HEALTH POLICY, vol. 120, pp. 72-80 (ISSN 0168-8510)

Abstract:

The reformulation of existing boundaries between primary and secondary care, in order to shift selected services traditionally provided by Emergency Departments (EDs) to community-based alternatives, has determined a variety of organisational solutions. One innovative change has been the introduction of fast-track systems for minor injuries or illnesses, whereby community care providers are involved in order to divert patients away from EDs. These facilities offer an open-access service for patients not requiring hospital treatments, and may be staffed by nurses and/or primary care general practitioners operating within, or alongside, the ED. To date little research has been undertaken on such experiences. To fill this gap, we analyse a Walk-in Centre (WiC) in the Italian city of Parma, consisting of a minor injury unit located alongside the teaching hospital’s ED. We examine the link between the utilisation rates of the WiC and primary care characteristics, focusing on the main organisational features of the practices and estimating panel count data models for 2007-2010. Our main findings indicate that the extension of practice opening hours significantly lowers the number of attendances, after controlling for General Practitioner’s and practice’s characteristics.