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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2018

Spatial accessibility to healthcare services in Shenzhen, China: improving the multi-modal two-step floating catchment area method by estimating travel time via online map APIs

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Zhuolin Tao, Zaoxing Yao, Hui Kong, Fei Duan, Guicai Li



Shenzhen has rapidly grown into a megacity in the recent decades. It is a challenging task for the Shenzhen government to provide sufficient healthcare services. The spatial configuration of healthcare services can influence the convenience for the consumers to obtain healthcare services. Spatial accessibility has been widely adopted as a scientific measurement for evaluating the rationality of the spatial configuration of healthcare services.


The multi-modal two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method is an important advance in the field of healthcare accessibility modelling, which enables the simultaneous assessment of spatial accessibility via multiple transport modes. This study further develops the multi-modal 2SFCA method by introducing online map APIs to improve the estimation of travel time by public transit or by car respectively.


As the results show, the distribution of healthcare accessibility by multi-modal 2SFCA shows significant spatial disparity. Moreover, by dividing the multi-modal accessibility into car-mode and transit-mode accessibility, this study discovers that the transit-mode subgroup is disadvantaged in the competition for healthcare services with the car-mode subgroup. The disparity in transit-mode accessibility is the main reason of the uneven pattern of healthcare accessibility in Shenzhen.


The findings suggest improving the public transit conditions for accessing healthcare services to reduce the disparity of healthcare accessibility. More healthcare services should be allocated in the eastern and western Shenzhen, especially sub-districts in Dapeng District and western Bao’an District. As these findings cannot be drawn by the traditional single-modal 2SFCA method, the advantage of the multi-modal 2SFCA method is significant to both healthcare studies and healthcare system planning.
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