Continuity is a benefit in healthcare and is an important part of patient-centric care, the goal of which is to provide healthcare that is responsive to a patient’s needs and respectful of his or her preferences and values. The Journal of Family Practice defines continuity of care as “care over time by a single individual or team of healthcare professionals and to effective and timely communication of health information.” It’s influenced by multiple factors, including demographics, inter-professional, organizational, patient-healthcare professional relationships, the role of receptionists and more.
Proven Benefits of Continuity of Care
There are numerous advantages that emanate from the continuity of care, not the least of which is improved patient outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Family Practice notes that sustained continuity of care improves the quality of care by improving receipt of preventive services and decreasing hospitalizations and emergency department use. Not only does it not have any negative effects on quality of care, it often increases patient satisfaction, especially for those with chronic conditions. Take a look at these additional proven benefits of continuity of care:
- Among preventative medicine and general health practitioners, continuity of care results in improved appointment follow-through, hypertension outcomes, identification of bacterial meningitis and prescription compliance.
- Continuity of care has a notably positive impact on healthcare outcomes, including prevention or reduction of physical, mental and social disabilities and reduced aggregate healthcare spending.
- Enhanced quality of care and improved outcomes across many disciplines are a result of continuity of care.
- Research has shown that continuity of care leads to patients being more likely to follow medical advice and utilize preventative care such as immunizations or cancer screening.
- Increased continuity of care by physicians is associated with lower mortality rates.
- Research has also shown that continuity of care results in patients being more satisfied, significantly more likely to follow medical advice and much more likely to take up personal protective care, like immunizations or cancer screening.
- In Medicare, bundled payment initiatives, accountable care organizations responsible for cost and quality targets and a focus on preventing hospital readmissions place a high value on continuity of care.
- Continuity of care in general practice elicits increased adherence to medication and reduced hospital use.
- Patients of full-time general practitioners possess higher levels of continuity than patients of part-time ones.
- Patients who see the same physician over time have lower death rates based on a review of 22 studies across nine countries.
As with most issues in the healthcare industry, there are some challenges to the continuity of care. Maintaining it intensifies in difficulty as the industry becomes more complex as with elderly patients who often require the expertise of multiple specialists. Poor continuity of care, then, provides additional risk for those patients as they transfer from a private residence to long-term care facilities. A study by Johns Hopkins University found that it also can result in costly overuse of unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Tackling These Challenges Through Technology
The emergence of innovative digital health technology, especially when integrated into existing EHR systems, has helped facilitate continuity of care. This is even true in rural or remote areas throughout the United States and around the world. Patients who might not otherwise have access to a high quality of care can avail themselves of it through both telehealth and telemedicine. These types of virtual healthcare not only reduce travel time and costs but also improve continuity of care through real-time communication, responsive concern and reduced admissions.
Technology like electronic medical records (EMRs) enables healthcare providers to more easily collaborate in patient care and access best practice guidelines and otherwise difficult to obtain real-time data, thereby reducing the risk of errors. Patients have better access to their data along with healthcare education tools that boost their engagement in their own care. All these advantages promote continuity of care, which in turn improves patient outcomes.
Advanced Medical Reviews: A Complete Commitment to Clients
At Advanced Medical Reviews, we believe every patient should receive quality healthcare. We emphasize our commitment to our clients and their patients through our continuous quality improvement, innovation, and client satisfaction. The services we provide assist healthcare organizations in giving their patients the highest quality of care available, a benefit that can be achieved through continuity of care.
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