Lin W, Huang IC, Wang SL, et al. Continuity of diabetes care is associated with avoidable hospitalizations: evidence from Taiwan's National Health Insurance scheme

Department of Health Care Administration, Chang Jung Christian University, Tainan, Taiwan.
International Journal for Quality in Health Care (Impact Factor: 1.76). 12/2009; 22(1):3-8. DOI: 10.1093/intqhc/mzp059
Source: PubMed


Taiwan's health-care system allows patients to utilize specialty services without referrals by primary care providers. This discontinuity of care may lead to increases in future hospitalizations. This study aims to determine whether the discontinuity of care is associated with the risk of hospitalization.
A secondary data analysis based on a claim data of a nationally representative random sample of diabetic patients in Taiwan. A usual provider continuity (UPC) index was developed-a ratio of the visits to the physician that subjects most usually see relevant to diabetes care to the total physician visits relevant to diabetes care-to investigate its association with the risk of hospitalization.
Taiwan's National Health Insurance scheme from 1997 through 2002.
Totally 6476 diabetic patients. INTERVENTION(s) None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(s) Diabetes-related short-term and long-term ambulatory care sensitive condition (ACSC) admissions.
Patients with ACSC admissions had significantly lower UPC scores compared with those without ACSC admissions. Using a Cox regression model that controlling for age, sex, severity of diabetes and the number of total visits, patients with low to medium continuity of care (UPC <0.75) were found to be significantly associated with increased risk of hospitalization as compared with patients with high continuity of care, especially for long-term ACSC admissions (relative risk: 1.336 [1.019-1.751]).
Higher continuity of care with usual providers for diabetic care is significantly associated with lower risk of future hospitalization for long-term diabetic complication admissions. To avoid future hospitalization, health policy stakeholders are encouraged to improve the continuity of care through strengthening the provider-patient relationships.

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    • "Among the ten studies, three studies measured hospitalisation for the same ACSC (i.e. chronic conditions), [42-44] two studies measured diabetes-related hospitalisations [20,22] and the remaining five studies [17-19,21,41] each measured hospitalisation for a different set of ACSC. "
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    ABSTRACT: Primary health care is recognised as an integral part of a country's health care system. Measuring hospitalisations, that could potentially be avoided with high quality and accessible primary care, is one indicator of how well primary care services are performing. This review was interested in the association between chronic disease related hospitalisations and primary health care resourcing. Studies were included if peer reviewed, written in English, published between 2002 and 2012, modelled hospitalisation as a function of PHC resourcing and identified hospitalisations for type 2 diabetes as a study outcome measure. Access and use of PHC services were used as a proxy for PHC resourcing. Studies in populations with a predominant user pay system were excluded to eliminate patient financial barriers to PHC access and utilisation. Articles were systematically excluded based on the inclusion criteria, to arrive at the final set of studies for review. The search strategy identified 1778 potential articles using EconLit, Medline and Google Scholar databases. Ten articles met the inclusion criteria and were subject to review. PHC resources were quantified by workforce (either medical or nursing) numbers, number of primary care episodes, service availability (e.g. operating hours), primary care practice size (e.g. single or group practitioner practice---a larger practice has more care disciplines onsite), or financial incentive to improve quality of diabetes care. The association between medical workforce numbers and ACSC hospitalisations was mixed. Four of six studies found that less patients per doctor was significantly associated with a decrease in ambulatory care sensitive hospitalisations, one study found the opposite and one study did not find a significant association between the two. When results were categorised by PHC access (e.g. GPs/capita, range of services) and use (e.g. n out-patient visits), better access to quality PHC resulted in fewer ACSC hospitalisations. This finding remained when only studies that adjusted for health status were categorised. Financial incentives to improve the quality of diabetes care were associated with less ACSC hospitalisations, reported in 1 study. Seven of 12 measures of the relationship between PHC resourcing and ACSC hospitalisations had a significant inverse association. As a collective body of evidence the studies provide inconclusive support that more PHC resourcing is associated with reduced hospitalisation for ACSC. Characteristics of improved or increased PHC access showed inverse significant associations with fewer ACSC hospitalisations after adjustment for health status. The varied measures of hospitalisation, PHC resourcing, and health status may contribute to inconsistent findings among studies and make it difficult to interpret findings.
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