Healthcare Policy

Healthcare Policy 16(1) August 2020 : 58-77.doi:10.12927/hcpol.2020.26290
Research Paper

Awareness and Use of Community Services among Primary Care Physicians

Tara Kiran, Jessica J. Rodrigues, Tatiana Aratangy, Kimberly Devotta, Nathalie Sava and Patricia O’Campo

Abstract

Primary care physicians play an important role in care coordination, including initiating referrals to community resources. Yet, it is unclear how awareness and use of community resources vary between physicians practising with and without an extended healthcare team. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of primary care physicians practising in Toronto, Canada, to compare awareness and use of community services between physicians practising in team- and non-team-based practice models. Team-based models included Community Health Centres and Family Health Teams – settings in which the government provides funding for the practice to hire non-physician health professionals, such as social workers, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and others. The survey was mailed to physicians, and reminders were done by phone, fax and e-mail. We used logistic regression to compare awareness between physicians in team-based (N = 89) and non-team-based (N = 138) models after controlling for confounders. We found that fewer than half of the physicians were aware of five of eight centralized intake services (e.g., ConnexOntario, Telehomecare). For most services, team-based physicians had at least twice the odds of being aware of the service compared to non-team-based physicians. Our findings suggest that patients in team-based practices may be doubly advantaged, with access to non-physician health professionals within the practice as well as to physicians who are more aware of community resources.

 

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