The July issue of Health Affairs included a study that sheds some light on the pros of seeing the same primary care doctor on a regular basis. In Orange County, usage of their healthcare programs from 2008 to 2010 was analyzed based on patient behavior and its results. Under their health program, doctors would be reimbursed for their provisions.
From 2008-2009, patients could change providers at any time, and over 65% did just that. All doctors, regardless of whether they were the chosen provider or not, were reimbursed at this time. However, from 2009-2010, the program ceased reimbursement for the use of providers that were not the ones chosen for each patient. After this change, 69.6% of patients always saw their chosen primary care doctor.
As a result of this policy change and subsequent shift in usage, emergency room visits dropped and patient satisfaction grew. On a case-by-case basis, the following are some compelling reasons to keep up with your chosen health care provider.
One Doctor Has All of Your Information
A big problem with switching practitioners is that with every new doctor comes a new patient-provider relationship to develop. It’s difficult for a new doctor to have full access to and keep track of all of your health concerns from a previous doctor, and some of these concerns could easily affect your livelihood.
Stay Out of the Emergency Room
Switching doctors means a new person without the full picture of your healthcare needs. The process of getting familiar with these needs is time-consuming and a new set of eyes might unnecessarily send you off for additional care that he does not have the time to provide, or even that you’ve already received or don’t need. “The more familiar a doctor is with a patient’s medical history and their chronic or complex conditions, the more successful the patient’s overall care is likely to be and fewer ER visits are likely,” according to the UCLA Center’s director of research Nadereh Pourat.
Save Time and Energy Spent on a New Provider Experience
I know I always dread my first visit to a new doctor. All the questions, all the paperwork, *hours* of time spent on intake procedure. They have to start from scratch in getting to know you, and it takes ages because hey, we’re intricate and wonderfully complicated human beings. This might seem like a no-brainer, but really think about how nice it is to have a good relationship with your health provider. One who knows you and your needs, or even just one who recognizes your face.
Think about this before you drop your current provider and move on to a new one.