Attending multiple practices and the risk of fragmenting care

Morgan Liotta

4/05/2018 3:18:23 PM

The Australian Journal of General Practice has published new research on patients attending multiple general practices – doctor hopping – and how this can result in fragmented healthcare.

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The AJGP study found that communication across all general practices that a patient attends can reduce fragmentation of healthcare.

The Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) research, steered by University of Technology Sydney (UTS) academics, aimed to estimate multiple general practice attendance by patients in Australia and identify characteristics of these patients.
Dr Michael Wright, who led the research and co-authored the AJGP article – How common is multiple general practice attendance in Australia? – with UTS colleagues, discovered that 90% of all respondents from a cross-sectional survey had a usual practice and 80% had a usual GP, but over a quarter had attended more than one practice in the previous year.
‘Multiple practice attendance was more common in younger patients and those patients living in major cities,’ Dr Wright said.
Dr Wright said that when Australians need to see a GP, most have access to a range of doctors.
However, he recognises that while patients should be supported in having the choice of which GP they see, this can potentially pose a risk of their care to become fragmented, particularly if a GP is unaware of the patient’s previous consultations.
‘Without such information-sharing between practices, informational continuity will be reduced and potentially lead to worse health outcomes if important information is not passed on,’ Dr Wright said.
He suggested the fragmentation of care caused by a patient visiting a non-regular practice, as well as their regular practice, could be overcome if information about all consultations is shared with the patient’s regular GP.
‘Usually GPs do not receive information about any non-regular practice attendance, if not volunteered by the patient,’ Dr Wright said.
The research supports maintaining a solid doctor–patient relationship to ensure continuity of care remains paramount.

Access ‘How common is multiple general practice attendance in Australia?’ in the May edition of the Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) for more information about patients visiting multiple general practices.

AJGP doctor-hopping fragmented-care general-practice-research


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