Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, JAMA / 22.01.2021 Interview with: Sara Machado PhD Fellow at the Department of Health Policy London School of Economics and Political Science What is the background for this study? Response: Physician distribution is a determinant of health care access, so knowing how physician density patterns evolve over time is important if we are trying to address disparities in access to care. Moreover, the last 10 years have brought about changes in health care coverage, across the US. Recent evidence points to an uneven physician distribution between urban and rural communities. We examined recent trends in physician density by physician category across rural and urban US counties. What are the main findings? Response: We have two main findings.
  • First, density of primary care physicians steadily decreased in more than half of rural counties (994 out of 1,976).
  • Second, medical specialist density, which would care for cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, for example, has been largely stagnant in rural counties, at the lowest density levels (less than 10 physicians per 100,000), and increasing in metropolitan counties.