Purpose — We sought to assess the impact of team-based care on emergency department (ED) use in the context of physicians transitioning from fee-for-service payment to capitation payment in Ontario, Canada.
Methods — We conducted an interrupted time series analysis to assess annual ED visit rates before and after transition from an enhanced fee-for-service model to either a team capitation model or a nonteam capitation model. We included Ontario residents aged 19 years and older who had at least 3 years of outcome data both pretransition and post-transition (N = 2,524,124). We adjusted for age, sex, income quintile, immigration status, comorbidity, and morbidity, and we stratified by rurality. A sensitivity analysis compared outcomes for team vs nonteam patients matched on year of transition, age, sex, rurality, and health region.
Results — We compared 387,607 team and 1,399,103 nonteam patients in big cities, 213,394 team and 380,009 nonteam patients in small towns, and 65,289 team and 78,722 nonteam patients in rural areas. In big cities, after adjustment, the ED visit rate increased by 2.4% (95% CI, 2.2% to 2.6%) per year for team patients and 5.2% (95% CI, 5.1% to 5.3%) per year for nonteam patients in the years after transition (P <.001). Similarly, there was a slower increase in ED visits for team relative to nonteam patients in small towns (0.9% [95% CI, 0.7% to 1.1%] vs 2.9% [95% CI, 2.8% to 3.1%], P <.001) and rural areas (‒0.5% [95% CI, -0.8% to 0.2%] vs 1.3% [95% CI, 1.0% to 1.6%], P <.001). Results were much the same in the matched analysis.
Conclusions — Adoption of team-based primary care may reduce ED use. Further research is needed to understand optimal team composition and roles.
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