Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School and St Leonard’s Practice in Exeter, United Kingdom have conducted a systematic review that examined the link between continuity of care and patient mortality.
22 cohort and cross-sectional studies from nine different countries were analyzed by first study author Sir Denis Pereira Gray and his colleagues.
The study findings have been published in the BMJ Open journal.
These findings could possibly have critical implications on the improvement of doctor-patient communication and patient care.
“Continuity of care happens when a patient and a doctor see each other repeatedly and get to know each other,” explains study co-author Professor Philip Evans.
“This leads to better communication, patient satisfaction, adherence to medical advice, and much lower use of hospital services,” he added.
The research team’s analysis discovered that seeing the same doctor in a long-term period was associated with lower patient death rates.
The researchers observed this in 82% (18 out of 22) of the studies. This connection applied to several types of doctors, including surgeons, psychiatrists and family physicians.
Its beneficial to both parties when a patient sticks with the same doctor repeatedly and is provided with the opportunity to build trust.
Patients are more likely to follow their doctor’s advice more closely when there is a consolidated doctor-patient relationship that leads to better health results.
“Patients have long known that it matters which doctor they see and how well they can communicate with them,” stated Gray.
‘’Until now arranging for patients to see the doctor of their choice has been considered a matter of convenience or courtesy: now it is clear it is about the quality of medical practice and is literally ‘a matter of life and death.’’
According to the researchers, the study supports the idea that people should invest not just in technology, but more in people who work in the healthcare industry. The study can be found in https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161.