Avalon Bay News Health Exclusive: Patients who are treated by the same primary care doctor on a regular basis are less likely to need emergency room treatment and hospitalization than those who bounce between multiple providers, according to new research by Nadereh Pourat, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, who published findings in the July issue of “Health Affairs” Journal.
Although some recent studies have found that emergency room use has increased since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (OBAMACARE, Covered California insurance) UCLA researchers showed that changing a health providers’ approach to how they deliver care, and changing how patients seek care can improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs.
In studying 49,000 low-income, previously uninsured adults from September 2008 to August 2010,participants were allowed to choose to be treated by primary care doctors at a community health center or at one of several private practices. The doctors not only provided primary health care, but also maintained patients’ medical records and coordinated their care for specialized medical needs.
In the first year, patients were not required to always use a specific doctor and could change medical providers at any time. It was determined that only one-third of patients chose to see a consistently chosen provider. Researchers identified this outcome as a “lack of continuous care” because the various doctors in different practices or clinics couldn’t properly keep track of the patients’ health concerns. Many patients also required a significant number of emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
In the second year, the program began to require that participants see only their designated doctor. Emergency room visits decreased. The study concluded that the more familiar a physician is with a patient’s medical history and their chronic or complex conditions, the more successful the individual’s overall care is and fewer ER visits are likely,” UCLA’S Nadereh Pourat said. “A 1 or 2 percentage-point decline in emergency room use can mean significant savings.”
Prior research has demonstrated that continuous care from a “chosen” practitioner also fosters greater patient satisfaction.
Catalina Island Medical Center is fortunate to have three full time physicians, several part time doctors (who cover rotating clinic and ER shifts), a Nurse Practitioner and medical residents who can provide immediate comprehensive health care for island residents and visitors. In selecting a primary care provider, CIMC patients benefit from the collaborative work of the entire medical staff who live and work in Avalon. By choosing a family practice facility like the CIMC Medical Group Office, patients are assured that their medical history and patient records are always available and accessible. CIMC maintains electronic medical records through the “Patient Portal.” Individuals and their CIMC medical team can review vital patient history, prescribed medications and other information immediately in an acute situation. Patient satisfaction improves with healthcare that is managed more effectively and long term. Emergency room visits and hospital admissions are reduced with the personal and focused attention of a CIMC primary physician and convenient “on site” laboratory, radiology and physical therapy services.
CIMC is committed to provide quality health care to each individual and improve the overall health of our community. For more information on selecting a primary care physician or other CIMC services, please call (310) 510-0700.
Story credit: Judy Hibbs