How Have Location Patterns of Physicians Affected the Availability of Medical Services?

by Joseph P. Newhouse, Albert P. Williams, Bruce W. Bennett, William B. Schwartz

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An analysis of the location of 17 categories of physicians in the years 1970 to 1979. As the supply of physicians grew during these years, smaller communities increasingly acquired various types of medical and surgical specialty services. Similar trends are observed in four different regions. The fraction of physicians who are board-certified tends to rise with community size. Only a small handful of towns with a population of 2,500 or more are farther than ten miles from a physician. The profile of location patterns strongly suggests that competitive forces play a major role in determining where physicians choose to practice. Thus, as the supply of physicians increases in the 1980s, the authors anticipate that services will become more and more available to populations outside metropolitan areas.

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