Is transportation a barrier to good health?

Access to basic necessities including healthcare is based on location and mobility.

Maybe you have an hour commute to work. The nearest grocery store is two neighborhoods away. Your chemotherapy appointments at the hospital are every day at 8 am next week across town.

Transportation alone is a critical social determinant of health, but it also touches almost every other social determinant by dictating how mobile we need be to get the resources and services we need, when we need them.

Impact on Health

Each year 3.6 million people in the United States do not obtain medical care due to transportation issues according to The American Hospital Association.

Patients miss appointments and can quickly become non-adherent to treatment plans and skip medication refills due to lack of transportation. And the impact is significant.

Not being able to get to your doctor’s appointment or the pharmacy results in delayed care, poorer health outcomes and even the possibility of increased emergency visits.

This doesn’t even include the barriers patients who lack of transportation have when trying to access healthy foods, keep a job or maintain social connections as they try to age in place.

Transportation and access

There are three components you can consider when assessing transportation and access- infrastructure, mobility and time.

The built environment, or infrastructure, is key to transportation whether that be roadways, public transit infrastructure or simply safe streets, sidewalks and bike lanes.

The ability to be mobile yourself – simply put, do you have a car? While this is a yes or no question, it quickly becomes more complicated when you consider totality of cost including maintenance, insurance, parking, and fuel to name a few.

And time. How long do you have to travel to reach work, make the doctor’s appointment, pick up a child from daycare and go to the grocery store? Time is our most precious commodity and the longer it takes to do daily chores or make regular appointments the more precarious our situation is.

Making connections

This table compares seven counties where no vehicle available is above the median across nine variables. Click on the link icon to explore further.

Being able to find the gaps in transportation, which is a critical link to health and well-being, can identify where investments could be made, and solutions could connect people to the resources they need to live a healthier life.

Data at Metopio

Metopio continually updates and adds curated, verified data and provides ridiculously easy tools to understand populations and places you care about. Adding valuable community context to any analysis gives you an edge when understanding a place, the people that live there and the impact you can have.

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