Yolanda Rodriguez Villalvazo MD, MPH, Jennifer S. McDanel PhD, Lauren A. Beste MD, MSc, Antonio J. Sanchez MD, Mary Vaughan‐Sarrazin PhD, David A. Katz MD, MSc
To determine the relationship between travel distance and surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma among veterans with cirrhosis.
Veterans Health Administration (VHA) inpatient and outpatient administrative data were linked to geocoded enrollee files. CMS‐VHA merged data were used to assess receipt of Medicare‐financed non‐VA imaging.
A retrospective cohort of US veterans diagnosed with cirrhosis between 2009 and 2015 was examined. First available abdominal imaging following the diagnosis of cirrhosis was analyzed separately as a function of travel distance to the nearest VA medical center (VAMC) and to the patient's assigned VA primary care provider. Veterans with dual use of Medicare and VA services were also examined for receipt of imaging outside of the VA.
Veterans who resided more than 30 miles from the nearest VAMC were less likely to receive any imaging for HCC surveillance. Among dual users, increased travel distance between the patient's residence and nearest VAMC was associated with an increased likelihood of receiving any abdominal imaging at facilities.
Increased travel distance to the nearest VA medical center reduces the likelihood of receiving imaging for HCC surveillance in cirrhotic veterans. Future efforts should focus on reducing geographic barriers to HCC surveillance.