Better continuity of care could lead to lower mortality, cardiovascular events

Better continuity of care could mean lower risk of cardiovascular mortality and events as well as reduced healthcare costs, according to a South Korean study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Researchers conducted a cohort study of a 3 percent nationwide random sample of Korean National Health Insurance patients. They examined 47,433 patients who received new diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, and determined their level of continuity in care over a five-year period.

Researchers evaluated overall mortality, cardiovascular mortality, incident cardiovascular events and healthcare costs, and found that lower continuity of care resulted in higher mortality, cardiovascular mortality and cardio vascular events. It also lead to increased patient costs, and inpatient and outpatient days, highlighting the need for healthcare systems to foster long-term trusting relationships between patients and physicians, researchers said.

Researchers admit the study has some limitations, including not measuring interpersonal continuity between doctors and patients, patients' vital signs and compliance to treatment, and the observational nature of the study leaves room for bias, according to the study.

"In spite of these limitations, our findings have significant policy implications given the way healthcare systems are increasingly fragmented and cost containment is increasingly important," researchers wrote in the study.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract