March 11, 2014

The benefits of sticking with the same doctor

Daily Briefing

Marketing and Planning Leadership Council
How to promote the benefits of coordinated care to patients

Patients are more likely to share their health issues with primary care physicians (PCPs) that they have been seeing for years and with whom they have established a rapport, according to a new British study.

For the study, which was presented at a recent conference, University of Bristol researchers recorded interactions between 190 patients and 30 PCPs at 22 physician practices in England. Researchers then analyzed the consultation length and the number of health problems discussed.

Researchers found that nearly one-third of patients had a "deep" relationship with their PCP. Patients with deep relationships voiced 0.5 more health problems that required a treatment decision or diagnosis and 0.9 more health issues, such as symptoms.

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"There was evidence that patients raised more problems and issues with [PCPs] that they felt they had a deep relationship with," says lead author Matthew Ridd, adding that it could be "because patients feel more comfortable raising additional issues with a [PCP] they feel they know well, or because more issues can be addressed within the time available as the [PCP] knows the patient and their medical history."

Seeing the same PCP over a long period of time may improve the quality of patient care because the PCP's knowledge of the patient's medical history, behaviors, and medications is deeper, according to the researchers. They recommend that patients stick with the same PCP, even if they have trouble finding the time to fit into their doctor's schedule as the PCP shortage continues to grow (Medical News Today, 3/10).

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