Many countries have introduced policies that enable patients to select a health care provider of their choice with the aim of improving the quality of care. However, there is little information about the drivers or the impact of patient mobility. Using administrative hospital data (n=19256) we analysed the mobility of prostate cancer patients who had radical surgery in England between 2010 and 2014. Our analysis, using geographic information systems and multivariable choice modelling, found that 33·5% (n=6465) of men bypassed their nearest prostate cancer surgical centre. Travel time had a strong impact on where patients moved to but was less of a factor for men who were younger, fitter, and more affluent (p always < 0.001). Men were more likely to move to hospitals that provided robotic prostate cancer surgery (odds ratio: 1.42, p<0.001) and to hospitals that employed surgeons with a strong media reputation (odds ratio: 2.18, p<0.001). Patient mobility occurred in the absence of validated measures of the quality of care, instead influenced by the adoption of robotic surgery and the reputation of individual clinicians. National policy based on patient choice and provider competition may have had a negative impact on equality of access, service capacity, and health system efficiency.
In this study, we assessed the reasons why men would choose to have prostate cancer surgery at a centre other than their nearest. We found that in England men were attracted to centres that carried out robotic surgery and employed surgeons with a national reputation.
European urology. 2017 Jul 28 [Epub ahead of print]
Ajay Aggarwal, Daniel Lewis, Susan C Charman, Malcolm Mason, Noel Clarke, Richard Sullivan, Jan van der Meulen
Department of Health Services Research & Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England, UK. Electronic address: ., Department of Social and Environment Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England, UK., Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, England, UK., School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK., The Christie and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, England, UK., Institute of Cancer Policy, King's College London, London, England, UK., Department of Health Services Research & Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, England, UK; Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, England, UK.