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Why continuity of care is trending over ‘doctor-hopping’

Continuity of care is an essential part of enabling better health outcomes. So what can practitioners do to boost patient engagement, enhance loyalty, and prevent ‘doctor hopping’ or fragmented models of care?

According to MedicalDirector’s latest Patient Engagement Survey 2018, conducted in partnership with online appointment and eHealth platform HotDoc, continuity of care is high in the Australian healthcare system, with most patients (80%) visiting their doctor at least every 6 months. Patient loyalty to their General Practitioner (GP) is also high, as 72% of respondents have been seeing the same doctor for more than 2 years.

“The statistics around patient loyalty to their GPs doesn’t surprise me, because I see that in my own practice. It is a good thing as continuity of care always leads to better health outcomes ” Dr Charlotte Middleton, GP and Chief Medical Advisor at MedicalDirector, said.

Continuity v fragmented models of care

The finding that continuity of care is a critical enabler to better health outcomes was further reflected by the fact that more than half of Australians (56%) consider being in very good or perfect health. A further 38% describe their health as average, and only 6% rate their health as poor.

The importance of continuity of care leading to better health outcomes has also been further supported by another study conducted by the Australian Journal of General Practice in May 2018. It found ‘doctor hopping’ could potentially pose a risk of care to become fragmented, particularly if a GP is unaware of the patient’s previous consultations. That research also supported maintaining a solid doctor–patient relationship is critical to ensure that continuity of care remains paramount.

Simple tips to enhance patient loyalty

Some solutions, tools and resources can GPs offer to patients to improve patient engagement and boost patient loyalty include:

  • Text reminders of appointments and follow-up appointments, to minimise patient no-shows
  • Online booking systems, to save busy patients time and ensure a seamless booking experience.
  • Fast and easy methods of communicating test results and diagnoses
  • Factsheets and health resources, to empower patients with more understanding about their condition, and how to manage it.
  • Streamline clinical management with the right software solutions to free up more quality time to offer patient-centric care

“In Australia we’re ranked second by the World Health Organisation for economic and health outcomes, and I think continuity of care plays an important part in this.” MedicalDirector’s CEO, Matt Bardsley, said.  “And it’s really great to see that patients are seeing their GPs often.”

“But there are many contributing factors that a GP needs to understand, and having the right knowledge as well as the right tools, can inform even better decisions, and enhance patient experience further.”

To download our latest Patient Engagement Survey 2018 click here.

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