An effort to connect non-emergent ER patients with a primary-care provider showed some success in increasing primary-care follow-up over the next year, a new study finds.
The study is published on the Annals of Emergency Medicine's website
. In the study of 965 ER patients, conducted at Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, people working as patient navigators tried to identify patients to be transferred to an on-site primary-care clinic, with the idea that patients assigned to a primary-care physician and given care in the clinic would be more likely to make follow-up visits to the clinic. The researchers found that to be the case: After a year, a higher share (9.3% more) of the patients directed to the primary-care clinic had made follow-up visits to the clinic. There was no statistically significant decrease in ER use for this group, however.
The authors note that the federal government's Healthy People 2020 project
identifies having a usual source of primary care as one of 26 leading "health indicators," designed to communicate the country's high-priority health issues and actions that can be taken to address them.
With the positive results of their study, the researchers wrote that "future studies should examine whether improvements in primary-care follow-up such as those shown in this study result in sustained linkage with a usual source of care and whether this ultimately translates to better health outcomes for patients."