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Secondary Service Areas (SSA)

What is a secondary service area (SSA)?

A secondary service area (SSA) is a geographic region surrounding a healthcare provider, typically a hospital, from which it draws an additional percentage of its patients beyond the primary service area (PSA). The specific percentage can vary, but it often falls around 15% of total patients. This area captures patients who might travel slightly further for more specialized care the hospital offers.

How does SSA improve healthcare?

SSAs can improve healthcare in a community in several ways, including increasing access to specialist care, improving the quality of care, fostering competition among providers, and potentially helping facilities drive more revenue.

However, there are a few obstacles providers should consider. Patients residing in an SSA may face longer travel times for the care they need than those in a PSA, which could be a barrier for individuals with limited mobility or financial resources. Additionally, facilities opening doors to new patients may have to deal with the added resource strain and operational burden.

Knowing your SSA can also help when developing a regional outreach strategy for growing a specialty service line. The SSA can indicate an area where a facility can expand its reach, as there is already a base of patients it services.