Study: Primary care continuity could help reduce hospital admissions

Primary care physicians who maintain a continuous relationship with their patients may be helping reduce avoidable hospital admissions, according to a study published by The BMJ.

Researchers conducted a cross sectional study of 200 primary care practices in England between April 2011 and 2013. They looked at records for more than 230,000 patients between the ages of 62 and 82 who visited a primary care physician at least twice. They compared the proportion of contacts between those patients and their PCP with the number of hospital admissions for ambulatory care conditions. The researchers identified ambulatory care conditions as those that could likely have been managed in a primary care setting.

They found higher continuity of care was linked to fewer hospital admissions, particularly among patients who were heavy users of primary care. Patients with high continuity of care were admitted to the hospital 12.49 percent fewer times than those with low continuity of care, according to the report.

The researchers note that their study merely observes the association between continuity of care and fewer hospital admissions, which could be also be the result of overall higher quality care. However, the authors conclude, "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."


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