Study: Continuity, Comprehensiveness of Care Predict Fewer ED Visits

Greater continuity of care with a specialist and greater comprehensive care by a family physician were associated with less use of the emergency department, according to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers studied how three aspects of primary physician care — physician specialty, continuity of care and comprehensiveness of care — were related to patients' ED use. Continuity of care was measured using the Usual Provider Continuity index and comprehensiveness of care was defined by the number of complete annual examinations.

In addition to finding that greater continuity of care by a specialist and greater comprehensiveness of care by a family physician predicted fewer ED visits, the researchers found that for patients under 65 years old, ED use was higher for those not affiliated with a family physician or specialist. Among patients who were 65 years and older, higher ED use was associated with having a specialist primary physician instead of a family physician.

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