New Report Released on Equity of Hospital-based Emergency Care

Researchers at Penn State have published a new report, A Conceptual Framework for Optimizing the Equity of Hospital-Based Emergency Care: The Structure of Hospital Transfer Networks.

Emergency care includes two key components: initial stabilization and transfer to a higher level of care. Significant work has focused on ensuring that local facilities can stabilize patients. However, less is understood about transfers for definitive care. To better understand how transfer network structure impacts population health and equity in emergency care, we propose a conceptual framework, the hospital transfer network equity-quality model (NET-EQUITY). NET-EQUITY can help optimize population outcomes, decrease disparities, and enhance planning by supporting a framework for understanding emergency department transfers.

The central thesis of our framework is that the structure of hospital transfer networks influences patient outcomes, as defined by the Institute of Medicine, which includes equity. The structure of hospital transfer networks is shaped by internal and external factors. The four main external factors are the regulatory, economic environment, provider, and sociocultural and physical/built environment. These environments all implicate issues of equity that are important to understand to foster an equitable population-based system of emergency care. The framework highlights external and internal factors that determine the structure of hospital transfer networks, including structural racism and inequity. We also describe ways that NET-EQUITY can be applied to generate research questions and how policymakers can respond should research find inequity.

Authors:  Charleen Hsuan, PhD; Brandan Carr, PhD; David Vanness, PhD; Yinan Wang, PhD; Douglas Leslie, PhD; Eleanor Dunham, PhD; and Jeannette Rogowski, PhD

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