To develop a method to use survey data to establish catchment areas of primary care or Primary Care Service Areas. Primary Care Service Areas are small areas, the majority of patients resident in which obtain their primary care services from within the geography.
The data are from a large health survey (n =267,153, year 2006–2009) linked to General Practitioner service use data (year 2002–2010) from New South Wales, Australia. Our methods broadly follow those used previously by researchers in the United States of America and Switzerland, with significant modifications to improve robustness. This algorithm allocates post code areas to Primary Care Service Areas that receive the plurality of patient visits from the post code area.
Consistent with international findings the median Localization Index or the median percentage of patients that obtain their primary care from within a Primary Care Service Area is 55% with localization increasing with rurality.
With the additional methodological refinements in this study, Australian Primary Care Service Areas have great potential to be of value to policymakers and researchers.