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Geographic accessibility of community pharmacies in ontario

Geographic accessibility of community pharmacies in ontario

Healthcare Policy, Volume 6, Issue 3, Canada, p.36 - 46 (2011)
Journal Article
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Proximity is an important component of access to healthcare services. Recent changes in generic pricing in Ontario have caused speculation about pharmacy closures. However, there is little information on the current geographic accessibility of pharmacies. Therefore, we studied geographic access to pharmacies and modelled the impact of possible closures. METHODS: We used location data on the 3,352 accredited community pharmacies from the Ontario College of Pharmacists and population estimates at the census dissemination block level. Using network analysis, we determined the share of Ontario's population who reside in a census dissemination block within three road travel distances of a community pharmacy: 800 m (walking), 2 km and 5 km (driving). We then simulated the effects on these measures of 10% to 50% reductions in the number of community pharmacies in Ontario. RESULTS: Approximately 63.6% of the Ontario population reside in a dissemination block located within walking distance of one or more pharmacies; 84.6% and 90.7% reside within 2-km and 5-km driving distances, respectively. Randomly removing 30% of Ontario's community pharmacies reduces these estimates to 56.0%, 81.4% and 89.0% for each distance, respectively; a 50% reduction results in 48.3%, 77.1% and 87.2%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacies are geographically accessible for a majority of the Ontario population. Moreover, it appears that modest closures would have only a small impact on geographic access to pharmacies. However, closures may have other impacts on access, such as cost, waiting time and reduced patient choice.