Identifying naturally occurring communities of NHS primary care providers

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are a new organisational hierarchy with wide-ranging responsibilities introduced in the National Health Service (NHS) Long Term Plan. The vision is that PCNs should represent ‘natural’ communities of general practices (GP practices) collaborating at scale and covering a geography that fits well with practices, other healthcare providers and local communities. Our study published in BMJ Open aims to identify natural communities of GP practices based on patient registration patterns using Markov Multiscale Community Detection, an unsupervised network-based clustering technique to create catchments for these communities. With PCNs expected to take a role in population health management and with community providers expected to reconfigure around them, it is vital to recognise how PCNs represent their communities. Our method may be used by policymakers to understand the populations and geography shared between networks.

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036504

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