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Is continuity of care important?

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It has been shown that regular check-ups between a patient and the same doctor have numerous positive benefits for the patient, the doctor, and the overall health system.

These benefits include:1

  1. Reduction in all-cause mortality,
  2. Greater patient satisfaction with services,
  3. Improved adherence to medical advice and uptake of preventive medicines,
  4. Lower use of hospital care, and
  5. A reduction in overall healthcare costs.

Over the years though there has been a decline in the continuity of care between patients and the same doctor, due in part to:1

  1. Expansion of larger practices and the prioritizing of rapid access over continuity,
  2. General practitioners only working part-time, and
  3. The difficulty to recruiting general practitioners to a practice.

Doctors value seeing patients regularly, especially if they have serious complex (multiple) issues or psychological problems and consider it rewarding seeing the patients’ condition stabilize or improve throughout the years.1

A recent study looking at routinely collected patient data showed that smaller practices have generally high scores in terms of patient and doctor satisfaction (in terms of regular check-ups) in comparison with larger practices.1

The study also showcased that the satisfaction scores for larger practices could be increased with improved communication between the patient and the different doctors that they may see at a larger practice.1

Reference:

Hull S; Williams C; Schofield P; Boomla K; and Ashworth M. (2022) ‘Measuring continuity of care in general practice: a comparison of two methods using routinely collected data’ British Journal of General Practice  doi.org/10.3399/BJGP.2022.0043

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