There’s arguably nothing more important to a person’s health than the relationship you have with your doctor. Now, a recent study is proving this point.
In the study, published in the journal BMJ, researchers from the Health Foundation in London reviewed anonymous health records from more than 230,000 seniors age 62 to 82. They discovered that these patients were admitted to the hospital less frequently for certain conditions when they saw their primary care physician on a consistent basis.
If patients saw their regular doctor an additional two times out every 10 visits, they had 6 percent fewer hospital admissions for “ambulatory care sensitive conditions,” which researchers described as conditions that can be managed during a primary care visit such as diabetes, flu, pneumonia and asthma.
Regularly seeing the same doctor helps with continuity of care. Continuity of care helps improve patients’ health over time because they work with their doctor cooperatively over an extended period for their health care management.
When you see a doctor consistently, you often build a relationship and trust with that physician. Other research has indicated this. One 2014 study that recorded interactions between 190 patients and 30 doctors at 22 physician practices found that nearly 33 percent of patients had a deep relationship with their doctor and these patients often were more vocal about health issues and concerns that required a treatment decision or diagnosis.
The relationship that patients build with their doctor is critical not only because we develop trust, but also because we become more familiar with your medical history, which helps us make better decisions about your care. This, in turn, can lead to improved health outcomes.
It’s important to mention that the Health Foundation London study didn’t identify a cause-and-effect relationship between sticking with one doctor and patients’ health — only that there’s a link between the two. Still, it’s clear the doctor-patient relationship has huge significance.
As doctors, we can do several things to improve care continuity, including making sure you book your next appointment before you leave our office, sending appointment scheduling reminders to you or your caregivers and providing tools and resources that make it easy to follow-up and see us, such as housecall service and transportation assistance like the concierge services Metro Health provides.
Our goal is to ensure all our patients maintain a good quality of life and that we help them manage any chronic conditions they have. Developing trust and a close relationship with you is key to achieving this goal — and that can only happen with regular face time during a doctor’s visit.
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