What is a hospital referral region (HRR)?

Hospital referral regions (HRRs) are geographic delineations created by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care (an organization committed to studying healthcare markets in the United States) to clearly define unique healthcare market regions. HRRs are made up of zip code area groupings based on the referral patterns of tertiary medical care.

HRRs have a minimum population requirement of 120,000, and residents of a given HRR must have at least 65 percent of their hospitalization stays within the HRR to meet Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care specifications. There are a total of 306 HRRs in the U.S. and their boundaries frequently cross state lines.

Why are hospital referral regions (HHRs) important metrics for healthcare?

HRRs are determined by where patients within a given area are being referred for major cardiovascular surgical procedures and neurosurgery. This means that every HRR contains at least one location where both major cardiovascular surgical procedures and neurosurgeries are performed.

HRRs can be used for various forms of analysis, especially for those looking to gain insight into major cardiovascular surgical procedures or neurosurgeries and their referral networks.