by Peter Tammes, Mairead Murphy and Chris Salisbury, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Decreasing trend of continuity of care
Seeing the same GP over time is highly valued by most patients and GPs in the UK. This is known as ‘continuity of care’ and it is linked with lower healthcare costs, more satisfied patients, fewer emergency hospital admissions and even with reduced mortality.
Given these multiple benefits, one would expect it to be highly prioritised. However, our recently published study in the British Journal of General Practice shows that continuity of care declined steadily between 2012 and 2017. On average, the percentage of patients who reported to have a preferred GP declined by nine percentage points and the percentage who can usually see their preferred GP declined by 10 percentage points.
Is decreasing continuity of care a concern?
Decreasing continuity is … Read more
by Dr Yvette Pyne, GP and Academic Clinical Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Coronavirus has completely changed how we work across most professions including in academic research. While those impromptu conversations around the coffee machine at work, or over drinks at academic conferences seem both a distant memory and a far-flung future dream, there have been some wins for collaborative working as well. Lockdown has brought both technological improvements and culture-change around the use of video conferencing and collaboration tools. A colleague – Dr Stuart Stewart based at the University of Manchester and I (based at the University of Bristol) have been “meeting” once a week to discuss the creation of a concept paper covering ideas that have been percolating for years after a fortuitous meeting at a conference in 2018. Both of us are tech-adept and we often discuss ways … Read more
by Sophie Park, Professor of Primary Care and Medical Education, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, Yathavan Premadasan, BSc Medical Student, University College London and Chris Salisbury, Professor of Primary Health Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed primary care dramatically, with most consultations conducted remotely by telephone, video or online messaging. But is this a short-term adjustment or the future norm? In general practice, clinical care has been based on long term face-to-face contact, establishing trusting relationships through continuity of care, and using knowledge of patients’ personal circumstances and social context to provide holistic support. Now, these fundamental principles are challenged.
Matt Hancock (UK Health Secretary) has welcomed rapid changes towards digitalised clinical practice as an overdue development, stating that wherever possible, all future consultations should be conducted remotely. But is the … Read more
by Chris Salisbury, Mairead Murphy and Polly Duncan, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, general practices have rapidly shifted to offering consultations remotely by telephone, video or online messaging rather than face-to-face. Many general practices are considering whether they should continue these new ways of working into the future and some commentators are arguing that general practice will be changed forever. Remote consultations could be more convenient for patients and reduce workload pressures on general practices.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic we wrote a paper which modelled how an increasing use of online, video and telephone consultations would affect GPs’ workload. Our conclusion was that a reduction in workload should not be assumed, and remote consulting could instead lead to an increase in GP workload over time. It all depends on how remote consultations are used.
The paper … Read more
by Dr Sophie Turnbull, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Digital interventions have become increasingly popular due to their potential to increase access to healthcare for people with chronic conditions and reduce the burden on a stretched healthcare system.
This has been amplified during the COVID-19 crisis, where much face-to-face support has been reduced or is no longer available. However, there are concerns that digital health provision may exacerbate existing health inequalities.
Chronic or long-term conditions, such as diabetes, are estimated to account for 87% of deaths and have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. Even in high-income countries, people with lower socioeconomic status experience chronic illness more commonly and with greater severity than average for the rest of the population.
We also know that people with existing health conditions, in low paid or insecure work and … Read more
by Dr Yvette Pyne, Academic Clinical Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
The breadth of conditions doctors are expected to manage continues to grow as people and society become ever more complex and it is in GP surgeries up and down the country where this is most starkly seen. The volume of work expected of GPs is taking its toll on individual doctors and the service as a whole.
My previous career designing and developing information technology (IT) systems gives me insight into the huge potential computers and machine learning have to help us in this increasingly challenging environment. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can enable us to provide the best evidence-based medicine to our patients while also freeing us from mundane administration to spend more time connecting with the human beings in front of us.
In the UK, Primary Care is already leading … Read more
by Dr Jason Sarfo-Annin, Honorary Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Debate surrounding the future of general practice is usually rooted in the context of the primary care workforce, the introduction of new roles and developing practitioners with a new skill-mix.
Such solutions are rooted in the medical model of health. I share the Marmotian view that health care is just one dimension of improving individual and population health.
As GPs, we often consult with patients who cannot be helped by our services. We are also often unable to effectively signpost patients or help navigate them to services that can support them. Consequently, I believe the future involves working as part of a collaboration of services – delivered optimally by co-location. Provision of these services would be based on the geographical location of patients and include amenities already provided by local authorities … Read more
By Dr Jeremy Horwood, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and NIHR CLAHRC West, and Dr Andrew Turner, Senior Research Associate, NIHR CLAHRC West
Researchers from the DECODE study hosted a workshop late in 2018 to explore the unintended consequences of digital health tools used in primary care. The workshop was attended by members of the public, technology developers, GPs and key researchers in the field.
Digital health tools, such as health monitoring apps and online patient portals, are becoming commonplace, with NHS England supporting their use to improve patient access and care. But this increase in their use could lead to unintended consequences, both positive and negative. An understanding of these consequences is vital, so we can minimise the negative effects and harness the positive.
DECODE aims to improve how digital health tools are used in primary care by investigating … Read more
by Dr Padraig Dixon
Senior Research Associate in Health Economics
Centre for Academic Primary Care
People are increasingly living with long-term health conditions. Management of these conditions is expensive, and their increased prevalence challenges health system sustainability and current service models. Can alternative models of care meet the needs of patients with long-term conditions at an acceptable cost?
One growing area of healthcare that could serve as a replacement or adjunct to traditional care models is telehealth, which is the remote provision of healthcare by a variety of communication tools. Telehealth advocates argue that the wider use of technology and a greater reliance on self-management in supporting patients with long-term conditions may produce the same or better health outcomes, but at a lower cost, than traditional care modalities. Is this optimism justified, and might telehealth be good value for the NHS?
Recent work, funded by the National Institute for Health … Read more