Finding and staying with the right doctor saves lives
It can be difficult to find the right doctor with whom you have trust and good communication.
But a new study has found that having the right doctor for you is important, but also staying with that same doctor decreases death rates.
Researchers from St. Leonard’s Practice in Exeter and the University of Exeter Medical School collaborated on the study which is the first of its kind to systematically review the relationship between death rates and continuity of care.
The results of the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, show that continuity of care directly relates to lowered death rates.
“Continuity of care happens when a patient and a doctor see each other repeatedly and get to know each other,” said Philip Evans, a member of the research team. “This leads to better communication, patient satisfaction, adherence to medical advice and much lower use of hospital services.”
According to Evans, new advancements in technology and treatments often overshadow relationships with medical professionals, but this is something that should take priority due to its life-saving potential.
Switching doctors or building rapport with a physician is not something that everyone can afford, but new healthcare options have given more and more patients freedom to seek out the care of their choice.
“Patients have long known that it matters which doctor they see and how well they can communicate with them,” said Denis Pereira Gray, an author of the study. “Until now arranging for patients to see the doctor of their choice has been considered a matter of convenience or courtesy: now it is clear it is about the quality of medical practice and is literally ‘a matter of life and death.”
The researchers analyzed data from 22 studies conducted in nine different countries with varying cultures and health care options. 82 percent of the studies showed that continuity of care lowered death rates compared to those patients who didn’t have that option.
What’s more, the results were not just true for family doctors but also with surgeons, psychiatrists, and other healthcare specialists as well.
The study shows that although breakthrough treatments and high-tech instruments can help advance the medical industry and provide better care, seeing the same doctor has a significant impact on decreasing the risk of early death.