Higher Primary Care Physician Continuity is Associated With Lower Costs and Hospitalizations

Higher Primary Care Physician Continuity is Associated With Lower Costs and Hospitalizations

This article was featured on the October 7 Lunch and Learn discussion

The Lunch and Learn participants engaged in discussion with primary care researchers Katrina Donahue, professor of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine; Andrew Bazemore, Senior Vice President of Research and Policy at the American Board of Family Medicine; and Stephen Petterson, former Research Director at the Robert Graham Center.

Policy Discussion Highlights

  • Physicians with the highest level of continuity were associated with declines in total expenditures and hospitalizations. The value associated with a 14% reduction in costs is roughly $1,000/beneficiary/year.
  • Both individual physician- and practice-level continuity are important dimensions of primary care measurement.
  • Non-physician clinicians are essential to establishing continuity as part of the primary care team.
  • Physician continuity should continue to be measured and rewarded (e.g., Medicare’s Quality Payment Program).
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