Outmigration occurs when a patient who lives in one service area seeks healthcare services outside that area. Several factors can contribute to patient outmigration. These may include perceived limitations in the quality of local healthcare services, a desire for specialized treatments or procedures not available locally, preferences for specific healthcare providers or institutions, or even considerations related to cost and insurance coverage.
For local healthcare systems, outmigration may lead to a loss of revenue and can highlight areas where the local healthcare infrastructure may need improvement or expansion to meet the needs and expectations of the community. Rural hospitals are at an increased risk of patient outmigration to urban hospitals, often because of the more extensive services offered at urban hospitals. Rural hospitals that effectively manage outmigration can enhance their financial stability, preserving their vital role in their communities and mitigating the risk of closure.