Currently, there is evidence to suggest that low-income Canadian neighbourhoods tend to have poorer access to care than higher income neighbourhoods. A team of students from British Columbia developed their project, "Mapping Access to Hospitals and Walk-In Clinics Across Vancouver, BC" to investigate.
The team explored whether this relationship between health care and income existed in Vancouver. In their research, they hoped to understand if the population's health needs were being met. To do so, they evaluated the proximity of health care services to neighbourhoods.
To support their research, the team used open data from Statistics Canada. This data provided them with information on neighbourhoods and average family incomes. The team also used provincial data to identify roads and the locations of walk-in clinics and hospitals. The team used this data to create maps of Vancouver's neighborhoods and average incomes. The maps also showed the distances between neighbourhoods and the nearest walk-in clinic.
At first, the students assumed that the availability of health care services decreased in lower-income areas. However, the results of their study showed that lower-income areas within Vancouver have better nearby access to walk-in clinics.
Proximity to walk-in clinics only represents one component of access. The next step of their research will be to check whether these populations can access the care they need. This will consider proximity, availability of services, and wait times.
Study projects like this are necessary for evaluating and improving the accessibility of health care in Canada. This project can provide feedback on health care services for lower-income Canadians. It can also assist in the implementation of policies to improve access to healthcare.
“Our research on the relationship between income and the accessibility of health care services in Vancouver, Canada, would not have been possible if it were not for open data. As undergraduate students, being able to easily find, access, and use real data made our project much more meaningful and exciting to conduct. Because our project was based on real data, we were especially proud to present and disseminate our results. That sort of empowerment, particularly among young undergraduates, is an incredible tool.”
- Sarah A. Savić Kallesøe