We like continuity – especially when it comes to our healthcare. According to a study done by Annals of Emergency Medicine, care continuity can greatly decrease the chances of an ER visit. Researchers studied the administrative data of more than 3 million Medicare beneficiaries between 2011 and 2013 and found that the relative risk of an ED visit, observation stay, or admission through the emergency department fell by up to 20% for patients with the highest continuity of care, compared with the lowest continuity of care. As a physician, building a strong relationship with patients can play a key role in their future health.
Creating Care Continuity
I know it’s tough for many physicians to hear, but not a lot of people enjoy going to the doctors. However, yearly checkups can prevent a variety of health risks that can crop up.
“Visits with the same physician or a small number of physicians fosters long-term relationships for Medicare patients, which is ultimately good for their health,” said lead study author David Nyweide, a social science researcher at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Not only is it important to see your patients on a regular basis, but also it’s important to create welcoming and comforting environment. Consistency not only with the time of the visit, but with the same physician is also important. The recent physician shortage means that caregivers must be able to provide proper recommendations for patients when it comes to emergency care.
“The critical factor seems to be consistent visits with one physician or few physicians, not lots of them,” Nyweide said. “Seniors would be well-advised to maintain an ongoing relationship with the same physician for many reasons, including avoiding emergency department visits.”
Benefits of Care Continuity
Like previously stated, patients with high care continuity showed a 20% decrease in visits to the emergency room. As a physician, it’s your job to provide proper care and treatment
“One possible explanation is that when a patient with a usual care physician comes to the ER, the physician may provide clearer guidance on which situations are serious enough to warrant a hospital admission,” Nyweide said.
Knowing when and if a patient should go to the ER not only can help them physically, but financially as well. Unnecessary ER visits can generate a lot of debt, so it’s important to make smart decisions when recommending emergency care.
The Future of Care Continuity
In a world that increasingly becoming mobile-based, it’s important to look at what the future will hold. The increasing prevalence of mobile-apps in the doctor’s office has become an early sign of future health-care protocol. Mobile visits via webcam (although suspect) are increasing and we can assume that in the near future patients will be able to text healthcare professionals for recommendations. No matter what new technology emerges, the number one thing to focus on is providing patients with the consistent care they deserve.