Holzminden Health Map
The consequences of the demographic change is mostly prevalent in rural areas. What kind of conesequences does this, in turn, have on the existent healthcare infrastructre? This is the question being posed by the health region Holzminden. Elderly people tend to go to the doctor more often then other population segments. As our population gets increasingly older, the number of people consulting the doctor on a regular basis will therefore increase, too. Simultaneously, the total population will decrease. In terms of planning the future health care infrastructure, it is key to clear up as to wheter or not the decrease in population is big enough to compensate the increase in doctor appointments.
This question is being addressed by the research focus nextPlace in collaboration with Ostwestfalen-Lippe university students. The result was the HolzmindenHealthMap application. The application is based on population projections by the rural disctrict of Holzminden that has been translated into age cohorts in order to project the upcoming doctor appointments for the following years. The doctor appointments have been allocated to the specific communal addresses based on the community and year. By doing so, it was possible to determine the doctor appointments in relation to the addresses. As a next step, catchment areas for every general practitioner (length: 15 minutes by car) have been created. The addresses and doctor appointments served as backup information. As a result, it was possible to determine the medical practice’s base load for the base year of 2008 (=100%). For the following years, it was key to observe the changes in capacity by comparing the newly calculated doctor appointments based on year and medical practice with the base number.
The results of the application and the calculation model show that the supply of general medical treatment is ensured for the upcoming years. The capacity of the practitioners decreases as time passes by. The minimum capacity value amounts to 73% of a medical practice in Ottenstein. The capacity in 2030 will amount to about 82% in the dense areas of the western regions in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The highest overaging rate can be found in the northeastern regions.
The calculation model that was used can be criticized though:
- The population forecasts are based on on relatively old data sets.
- The increase in capacity due to an increasing number of refugees has not been taken into account.
- It is highly unlikely that the elderly population is able to use a car.
- The distribution of the communal population onto the catchment areas is simplified. Therefore, the “rural areas” are overestimated and the “urban” regions are underestimated.
- The closure of medical practices has been not taken into account.
- The maximum travel time of 15 minutes can be critically scrutinized.