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The visiting specialist model of rural health care delivery: a survey in Massachusetts
Family Medicine and Community Health Publications and Presentations
  • Jacob Drew, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Suzanne B. Cashman, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Judith A. Savageau, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Joseph Stenger, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Orthopedics
Publication Date
Document Type
Adult; Female; Health Care Surveys; Health Services Accessibility; Hospitals, Rural; Humans; Male; Massachusetts; Medically Underserved Area; Middle Aged; Personnel Staffing and Scheduling; Rural Health Services; Specialties, Medical

CONTEXT: Hospitals in rural communities may seek to increase specialty care access by establishing clinics staffed by visiting specialists.

PURPOSE: To examine the visiting specialist care delivery model in Massachusetts, including reasons specialists develop secondary rural practices and distances they travel, as well as their degree of satisfaction and intention to continue the visiting arrangement.

METHODS: Visiting specialists at 11 rural hospitals were asked to complete a mailed survey.

FINDINGS: Visiting specialists were almost evenly split between the medical (54%) and surgical (46%) specialties, with ophthalmology, nephrology, and obstetrics/gynecology the most common specialties reported. A higher proportion of visiting specialists than specialists statewide were male (P = .001). Supplementing their patient base and income were the most important reasons visiting specialists reported for having initiated an ancillary clinic. There was a significant negative correlation between a hospital's number of staffed beds and the total number of visiting specialists it hosted (r =-0.573, P = .032); study hospitals ranged in bed size from 15 to 129.

CONCLUSIONS: The goal of matching supply of health care services with demand has been elusive. Visiting specialist clinics may represent an element of a market structure that expands access to needed services in rural areas. They should be included in any enumeration of physician availability.

DOI of Published Version
J Rural Health. 2006 Fall;22(4):294-9. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to article in PubMed
PubMed ID
Citation Information
Jacob Drew, Suzanne B. Cashman, Judith A. Savageau and Joseph Stenger. "The visiting specialist model of rural health care delivery: a survey in Massachusetts" Vol. 22 Iss. 4 (2006) ISSN: 0890-765X (Print)
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