Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 22(4) January 2020 : 13-21.doi:10.12927/hcq.2020.26089
Effective Primary Care

Patient–Physician Relational Continuity and Health System Utilization among Patients in Alberta

Ceara Cunningham, Tanmay Patil, Rizwan Shahid, Alka B. Patel and Scott Oddie


In Alberta, no standardized processes exist to identify patients with chronic diseases (CDs) who do not have a family physician. This study examined the association between relational continuity (continuity of care) and healthcare utilization patterns in this population. Relational continuity was assessed using health administrative data to calculate a Usual Provider Continuity (UPC) Index. The majority of patients with no or a low UPC Index were male, did not have CD and were healthy or non-users of healthcare. When grouped by UPC Index, regression modelling revealed that emergency department visits and unplanned hospitalization declined with increased continuity of care. Advanced state of disease(s) and location of residence increased the likelihood of utilization of these services in the low- and moderate-continuity groups.



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