Objective: To demonstrate the potential of GIS (geographic information system) technology and ARIA (Accessibility/Remoteness Index for Australia) as tools for medical workforce and health service planning in Australia. Design: ARIA is an index of remoteness derived by measuring road distance between populated localities and service centres. A continuous variable of remoteness from 0 to 12 is generated for any location in Australia. We created a GIS, with data on location of general practitioner services in non-metropolitan South Australia derived from the database of HUMPS (Rural Undergraduate Medical Placement System), and estimated, for the 1170 populated localities in South Australia, the accessibility/inaccessibility of the 109 identified GP services. Main outcome measures: Distance from populated locality to GP services. Results: Distance from populated locality to GP service ranged from 0 to 677 km (mean, 58 km). In all, 513 localities (43%) had a GP service within 20 km (for the majority this meant located within the town). However, for 173 populated localities (15%), the nearest GP service was more than 80 km away. There was a strong correlation between distance to GP service and ARIA value for each locality (0.69; P<0.05). Conclusions: GP services are relatively inaccessible to many rural South Australian communities. There is potential for GIS and for ARIA to contribute to rational medical workforce and health service planning. Adding measures of health need and more detailed data on types and extent of GP services provided will allow more sophisticated planning.
|Number of pages||3|
|Journal||Medical Journal of Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 1999|