HFHT's Practising Wisely Newsletter
For the whole healthcare team.
Issue 58: Continuity of Care is Good for Health
August 14, 2018
Quality is a hot topic these days, as is reducing unnecessary tests and treatments in health care.

However, quality care is not always about drugs and tests. Doc Mike Evans in his famous video "23 ½ Hours", describes something that greatly reduces the harm of a multitude of physical illnesses (arthritis, dementia, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression etc.)...the intervention is exercise! Check out our Quick Links section to see the video for yourself. A note to those physicians who have Screenscape in their clinics: this video is part of the regular loop of programming that plays to your patients each day.

It is timely to review some research published in the BMJ (available in our Quick Links section) that chronicles something that we do everyday as family physicians - the value of which is not always appreciated - Continuity of Care.

The study entitled Continuity of care with doctors—a matter of life and death? A systematic review of continuity of care and mortality aimed to examine whether there is a relationship between the receipt of continuity of doctor care and mortality. The authors state that, "Continuity of care is a long-standing feature of healthcare, especially of general practice. It is associated with increased patient satisfaction, increased take-up of health promotion, greater adherence to medical advice and decreased use of hospital services."

The conclusion is worth quoting in it’s entirety: “This first systematic review reveals that increased continuity of care by doctors is associated with lower mortality rates. Although all the evidence is observational, patients across cultural boundaries appear to benefit from continuity of care with both generalist and specialist doctors. Many of these articles called for continuity to be given a higher priority in healthcare planning. Despite substantial, successive, technical advances in medicine , interpersonal factors remain important .”

It is therefore reassuring to know that even if we don’t have the latest technology or don’t always achieve HQO targets or have registries for all our patient’s conditions, by leading our clinical teams, and providing the care that we do provide, on a continuing basis, we are keeping our patients as healthy as possible.
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