Study: Team-based primary care improves patient outcomes

Team-based primary care may lead to better postdischarge patient outcomes, according to a Canadian study.

Though team-based primary care models did not significantly impact 90-day readmission rates, patients enrolled in those practices visited emergency departments less in the first 30 days after discharge and had lower 30-day mortality rates compared to those treated in traditional fee-for-service practices, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal studied data on more than 312,000 older or chronically ill patients admitted to hospitals between November 2002 and January 2009, including information on more than 620,000 admissions.

“Our study showed that enrollment in the newer team-based primary care practices was associated with lower rates of postdischarge emergency department visits and death,” the research team concluded. “We did not observe differences in readmission rates, which suggests that more targeted or intensive efforts may be needed to affect this outcome.”

Related: Study: Value-based care programs reduce readmissions

Overall, older patients were likely to make return visits after discharge, the researchers found. About one in four returned within 30 days, either for readmission or for a visit to the emergency department.

The findings are valuable, they concluded, because it reiterates the value that care coordination can offer to the sickest patients, according to an announcement.

Coordinated care help patients navigate the complexities of the healthcare system, but recent surveys have found that only about half of patients in the U.S. actually experience the benefits of care coordination. Post-acute care is one area providers can significantly improve care coordination, especially as that market is growing. Effective coordinated care requires alignment between providers across the continuum of care.