Algorithmic hospital catchment area estimation using label propagation

Challen, Robert J.; Griffith, Gareth J.; Lacasa, Lucas; Tsaneva-Atanasova, Krasimira
BMC Health Services Research 22, 828, (2022)

Background: Hospital catchment areas define the primary population of a hospital and are central to assessing the
potential demand on that hospital, for example, due to infectious disease outbreaks.
Methods: We present a novel algorithm, based on label propagation, for estimating hospital catchment areas, from
the capacity of the hospital and demographics of the nearby population, and without requiring any data on hospital
Results: The algorithm is demonstrated to produce a mapping from fine grained geographic regions to larger scale
catchment areas, providing contiguous and realistic subdivisions of geographies relating to a single hospital or to a
group of hospitals. In validation against an alternative approach predicated on activity data gathered during the
COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, the label propagation algorithm is found to have a high level of agreement and perform
at a similar level of accuracy.
Results: The algorithm can be used to make estimates of hospital catchment areas in new situations where activity
data is not yet available, such as in the early stages of a infections disease outbreak.

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