Background — Robust and integrated primary care and home care are core components of effective chronic disease management in the community. We described the primary care and other health system use by a cohort of home care patients.
Methods — We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of patients who received publicly funded home care in Ontario, Canada, from October 2014 to September 2016. Primary outcomes were primary care physician visits including coordination with home care, home visits and visits after hours or on weekends or holidays within 6 months of a home care assessment. Secondary outcomes included specialist physician visits, emergency department use, home care visits and placement in a long-term care home. Multivariable models examined associations between patient characteristics and subsequent primary care use.
Results — There were 226 054 home care patients in our cohort, with a median age of 81 years. Following assessment, home care patients visited primary care physicians at a rate of 0.78 visits per month. Physician-based home care coordination codes were billed for 3.9% of patients. Primary care home visits were received by 13.1% of patients, and 15.1% of patients used primary care after hours or on weekends or holidays.
Interpretation — Patients receiving publicly funded home care frequently visited a primary care physician. Physician billings for coordination between primary care and home care were infrequent but were more common in interprofessional primary care practices. Physician home visits were more likely to be received by the oldest and most functionally impaired patients, suggesting that home visits are responsive to the needs of home care patients.
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