Due to a growing elderly population the number of age-related diseases increases and thus the need for geriatric care. In rural areas with low population density and few healthcare providers there is a risk of inadequate care.
The aim of our investigation was to identify gaps in care and preferred improvement approaches in rural areas from the perspective of local care providers.
1,545 healthcare providers from two rural regions were surveyed on the care situation (assessment according to the German grading system), improvement approaches and problems (simple frequencies). The participants’ answers were categorized and analyzed by their work location according to the central-place concept of high-order, middle-order and lower-order (basic) centers.
348 healthcare providers participated (response rate: 22.5 %). The outpatient and inpatient care situation in geriatrics was rated “satisfactory” on average. Geriatric care is most often jeopardized by long waiting times for specialist treatment (71.0 %). Significant differences in the rating were found in the coverage of geriatric care by inpatient care (p=0.0018) and the accessibility of medical facilities by public transport (p=<0.001). These were better rated in the higher-order centers. The preferred approach to improve care was intersectoral networking (62.3 %) among care providers.
In rural areas, supply problems in geriatrics exist, in particular accessibility and waiting times in middle-order and basic centers. Solutions of regional, intersectoral and interprofessional care were approved by a majority of the participants.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier GmbH.