Several national reports regarding possible health care reform in Canada have highlighted the importance of primary care, with particular emphasis on continuity of care - a continuous relationship, sustained over time, between patients and their care providers. Continuity of care has been found to be associated with improved adherence to prescribed screening and treatment, recognition of unidentified problems, better immunization outcomes, fewer hospitalizations, lower use of emergency rooms, improved patient satisfaction, and a general reduction in costs.
While Canada has a relatively good primary care orientation in its health care system, it has only a moderate degree of continuity. The findings form these two projects will play an important role in promoting policy interventions that enhance continuity of care, by providing quantitative evidence of the relationship to health outcomes across a range of health contexts.
The first project (Defusing the Confusion: Concepts and Measures of Continuity of Health Care) involved an extensive literature review and consultations with over 50 researchers and policy makers to produce the first synthesis of the meaning of continuity across different health care domains.
This second project (Patient-focused care over time: issues related to measurement, prevalence, and strategies for improvement among patient populations) used data from the BC Linked Health Database to explore the extent and impact of continuity of care in four different settings: primary care, group practice settings, for populations with mental health disorders, and for populations with workplace-related injuries.