EVIDENCE ON BENEFITS OF CONTINUITY
Our 2016 review on continuity of care can be read here.
You can also watch Sir Denis Pereira Gray talk about the benefits of continuity in Webinar 1 on the Royal College of General Practitioners' website.
Continuity has been shown to have benefits for both patients and doctors. We summarise eight core benefits for patients which are well demonstrated in the research literature.
When they receive continuity of doctor care, patients:
These key features have many different research studies underpinning them and we have simply selected two or three for each for the sake of simplicity and to keep the number of references manageable.
BENEFITS FOR DOCTORS
There are also advantages for GPs of continuity of care:
GP satisfaction- personal knowledge of the patient and the doctor–patient relationship and personal continuity enable GPs to provide ‘higher-quality care’ (Ridd et al 2006)
Efficiency in practice administration- general practices run more efficiently, when staff are clear about who is the responsible GP. With personal lists queries and test results can be transmitted quickly to the patient’s responsible doctor (Pereira Gray 1979)
Internal professional audits- personal list practices can conduct internal practice audits on the performance of doctors. These internal inter-doctor audits are highly educational, sustain quality improvement, with privacy for the clinicians if weaknesses are exposed. (Pereira Gray 1995)
Forgiveness- Patients forgive some practice errors within strong patient–doctor relationships (Lings et al 2003)
BENEFITS FOR HEALTH SYSTEMS
Lower costs for health systems
Better prevention, better prescribing and reduced hospitalisations means lower costs for health systems. Continuity of care has been shown to be associated with lower overall healthcare costs ( Weiss and Blustein 1996, De Maeseneer 2003, Bazemore et al 2018) as well as specific costs such as prescription costs.
There are also benefits to entire health systems, such as the NHS, from continuity of care. Some of these emerge from the benefits to patients and doctors.