Is Continuity of Care Associated With Use of Health Care Services?

Emmi Lautamatti, Markku Sumanen, Risto Raivio, Kari Mattila

Keywords: Continuity of care, health care services

Continuity of primary health care is defining characteristic of high-quality health care. There is evidence of continuity of care having associations with use of health care services. In Finland continuity of care in primary care has decreased and at the same time use of hospital services, examinations and consultations have increased.

Research questions:
Is continuity of care associated with use of health care services? Does continuity of care increase the quality of care by decreasing unnecessary examinations and consultations? Is there a patient group that benefits from continuity of care more than others?

The data are part of Health and Social Support –study (HeSSup) based on a random Finnish population sample. There were 11924 respondents in 2003 and 15993 in 2012. Participants were divided into three groups according to the single repeated question of continuity of care. We asked the use of laboratory tests, consultations or other examinations in the questionnaires. Logistic regression analysis was used to study association of age, gender, education, self-assessed health, ability to function, chronic diseases and continuity of care with more frequent use of health care services.

Participants in the group who had continuity of care in 2003 and 2012 had more illnesses than participants in other groups. In the same group also the use of other examinations, consultations and hospital services was more frequent than in other groups. Factors associated with the findings are still under study. The results will be announced in the congress.

Patients with chronic diseases need and usually get more health care services than the other population. Patients pursue authorities to implement continuity of care, which also guarantees good quality of care.

Points for discussion:
Trends of continuity of care around Europe.

Increased use of health care services - is continuity of care cost-effective?

In Finland team-based models in organizing primary health care are a hot topic. What is the future of continuity of care?