South Korean cancer patients tend to transfer to other medical institutions twice on average during five years after the initial diagnosis, the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA)심평원 said in a report.
According to the “HIRA’s Big Data Briefing,” half of the cancer patients moved to larger general hospitals to receive treatment. The farther the patients lived from the Seoul metropolitan area, the more they changed medical institutions, the report showed,
The insurance review body said it analyzed how cancer patients were changing hospitals, as the government is pushing policies to reduce the social and financial burden to treat cancer and to support regional cancer centers to make it easier for cancer patients living in provinces to get medical treatments.
The report based itself on data from medical insurance coverage bills of cancer patients initially diagnosed with cancer in 2011 but did not go to see a doctor for treatment for the past one year. The report followed their movements until the end of 2016.
Among such 254,334 patients, the largest number, 43,891 or 17.3 percent was thyroid cancer patients. Half of them was diagnosed with cancer at large general hospitals, 20.6 percent at general hospitals, 4.1 percent at hospitals, and 15.4 percent at clinics.
The second largest cancer was gastric cancer, taking up 14 percent of the total cancer patients. About 48 percent of them discovered their cancer at large general hospitals, 34 percent at general hospitals, 5.9 percent at hospitals, and 15.4 percent at clinics.
Among the total, 48 percent used large general hospitals, followed by 32.9 percent for general hospitals, 5.5 percent for hospitals, and 13.5 percent for clinics.
The average number of hospital transfer was 1.94 for the five years, while those who moved more than five times took up 4.5 percent, or 1,524 patients. Those moved four times was 4 percent, three times, 13.3 percent, two times, 27.2 percent and once, 49 percent, or 124,616 patients.
Patients with cancer in their digestive system had the higher frequency of hospital transfers. The pancreatic cancer patients had the most frequent hospital transfers with 2.2 times, among patients with the 10 most frequently diagnosed cancers in Korea.
Among the patients with 2011 diagnosis, those in their early 30s moved most frequently, followed by those in early 60s. By region, Gwangju and South Jeolla Province had the highest number of hospital change, while Seoul had the lowest, at 1.29 times.
“Patients tend to favor large hospitals in the Seoul metropolitan area for cancer treatments. If they were diagnosed with cancer in the non-metropolitan area, they changed the hospital more frequently,” the report said.
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