Continuity of primary care improves patient outcomes: BMJ
UK researchers published a study this month in the British Medical Journal finding that improved continuity of care in general practice may reduce secondary care costs, particularly for the heaviest users of healthcare. They also found that promoting continuity could improve the experience of patients and those working in general practice.
Preventing hospital admissions is a priority in many countries, including Australia. The study examined the association between continuity of care and hospital admissions among older patients (aged 62-82 years) and examined how the association differs between high and low users of primary care.
Authors Isaac Barker and colleagues found that patients who saw the same general practitioner a greater proportion of the time experienced fewer admissions to hospital for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (those considered manageable in primary care) than other patients. In fact, compared with patients with low continuity of care, patients with medium continuity of care experienced 9% fewer of these types of admissions, and those with high continuity of care experienced 12.5% fewer.
The authors write this study motivates a renewed focus on promoting continuity of care, and it suggests that continuity is an important consideration when designing approaches to reduce hospital admissions.