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Seeing the Same Primary Care Physician Improves Health Outcomes, Study Suggests

Patients have fewer hospital admissions and lower mortality rates.

louis ochoa

Julio 29, 2022 | | Reading time: 4 min

The study indicates that continuity of care leads to better outcomes, particularly for older patients. Photo: Shutterstock.

One study measured the longitudinal continuity of the doctor-patient relationship in primary care, in 126 practices from a population group, using the Usual Care Provider (UPC) score and comparing it with the response of the General Practice Patient Survey (GPPS) to questions about the continuity of the primary doctor.

The people who benefit most from seeing the same GP are those with long-term health problems and people who visit an office frequently. With continuity of care in decline, these patients could be disproportionately affected, leading to suboptimal care and missed important issues.

Continuity of care between GPs and the patients leads to better results the patientsparticularly for people who are elderly, have complex, long-term or multiple conditions, or have poor mental health.

Research shows that the patients who see the same doctor for most of their care have fewer hospital admissions and lower mortality rates.

The study population included patients who consulted three or more times between January 2017 and December 2018. Demographic and anonymous consultation data from the electronic health record were linked with Q10 results from the General Practice Patient Survey ( GPPS) of 2019.

The results conclude that the UPC score average for the 126 practices it was 0.52 (range 0.32 to 0.93). There was a strong correlation between the practice UPC scores measured in the two years to December 2018 and the answers to GPPS question 2019 “see the doctor you prefer,” Pearson’s r correlation coefficient, 0.62.

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Smaller practices had higher scores. Multilevel analysis showed greater continuity for patients older than 60 years compared to children and younger adults and for women.

Therefore, regular review of practice continuity rates can support efforts to increase continuity within practice teams. This is likely to have positive effects on clinical outcomes and the satisfaction of both the patients like the doctors.

The patients Those who often see the same GP are also more likely to establish a trusting relationship with them, follow advice and take preventive measures to improve their health. Despite its benefits, health policy does not currently measure or incentivize continuity, but the Health and Social Care Committee has made continuity of care a focus of its research into the future of General Medicine.

Dr Sally Hull, lead author and clinical reader in primary care development at Queen Mary University, said: “Continuity of care leads to better outcomes, particularly for the patients elderly and those with complex needs, and should be routinely measured as an indicator of quality of practice.”

Improving continuity of care will require the encouragement and commitment of emerging networks of primary care and integrated systems of care. There are also opportunities for local initiatives, such as the development of micro-teams within larger practices, or changes to booking systems, but these should be supported by reliable monitoring.

With incentives and follow-up in place, continuity of care can be improved. In addition to improving clinical outcomes, this is likely to have a positive effect on the satisfaction of both the patients like the doctors.”

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Source consulted here.

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