A new study appearing in BMJ Journals highlights the importance of finding a personal doctor you feel comfortable with and staying with them. The paper, called “Continuity of care with doctors—a matter of life and death?” was designed to explore whether or not there is a correlation between positive health outcomes and the receipt of continuity of physician care. Researchers examined data from 22 studies published between 1996 and 2017 to identify patterns in care and outcomes. What makes this study so unique, however, is that it compiles data from several countries, multiple models of care, and both primary and specialty care, meaning it provides a snapshot unlike any previous study has.
Follow-Up Visits Define Continuity of Care
The study looked at existing research papers which specifically measured things like whether a person’s primary care physician visited them in the hospital and if follow-up visits, both with primary and specialist care, were observed. Some of instances of continuity were measured based on a single day, as would be the case if a patient was hospitalized and discharged promptly, while others looked at long-term doctor-patient relationships over a period of years.
Poor Continuity of Care Shortens Lifespans
Nearly 82% of the studies researchers looked at found clear mortality increases when there are lapses in continuity. And this was seen with both general and specialist care. Moreover, many of the others showed mixed results, meaning even those could not debunk the link.
Better and Longer Relationships Lead to Improved Outcomes
The paper further notes that continuity of care is “associated with increased patient satisfaction, increased take-up of health promotion, greater adherence to medical advice and decreased use of hospital services.”
Researchers Linked Improved Outcomes to 5 Factors
- When physicians are more involved, patients believe the physician is more responsive.
- Patients disclose more when a physician has built up rapport.
- With more detailed information at hand, the physician can then tailor the patient’s medical care to his or her needs.
- Increased patient satisfaction boosts optimism, which is associated with good health.
- Per the report, doctors overestimate their effectiveness when treating a patient they don’t know well. However, they underestimate their effectiveness when they do know the patient well. This makes physicians more likely to consider every angle and avenue of treatment.
Seeing the Same Personal Doctor and Getting Regular Treatment Is Linked to Good Health
Although many previous studies have made similar conclusions, this is the only study of this magnitude conducted so far. Previously, a paper published in Lancet noted a correlation between patients who switch physicians and increased emergency hospitalizations and another in JAMA noted that gaps in primary care visits leads to unnecessary treatment and procedures. In other words, you not only need to find an involved personal doctor you feel comfortable with, but you must both be dedicated to following up with regular care visits.
Join Dedication Health: Find a Personal Doctor In Chicago with a Patient-First Focus
Dedication Health operates differently than other Chicago doctors. Under a concierge medicine model, patients have access to their personal doctor 24/7. They can spend all the time they need with their personal physician at each visit. This gives our patients ample time to address all their concerns in a comfortable environment. We also have in-office specialists and an array of services available under one roof. So it’s easy to get the care you need, whether that’s a consultation, lab work, prescription management, or even x-rays.
Adding to this, our team coordinates care with outside specialists and hospitals on your behalf, so everything is seen to. Perhaps most importantly, our Chicago physicians have privileges at most of the local hospitals. So if you do ever need a higher level of care, your personal physician—the one who knows you and has a relationship with you—will be right there beside you throughout treatment. To learn more about Dedication Health or to find a personal doctor in Chicago, speak with our Practice Manager Christine by calling 847-986-6770 or complete our online form and she’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.
For more information about concierge medicine or finding a personal physician or personal doctor in Chicago, browse the links below.
Everyone Should Have a Concierge Physician: Here’s Why
5 Signs It’s Time to Change Doctors