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Characteristics and practice patterns of family physicians who provide home visits in Ontario, Canada: a cross-sectional study


Background — Physician home visits are essential for populations who cannot easily access office-based primary care. The objective of this study was to describe the characteristics, practice patterns and physician-level patient characteristics of Ontario physicians who provide home visits.

Methods — This was a retrospective cross-sectional study, based on health administrative data, of Ontario physicians who provided home visits and their patients, between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019. We selected family physicians who had at least 1 home visit in 2019. Physician demographic characteristics, practice patterns and aggregated patient characteristics were compared between high-volume home visit physicians (the top 5%) and low-volume home visit physicians (bottom 95%).

Results — A total of 6572 family physicians had at least 1 home visit in 2019. The top 5% of home visit physicians (n = 330) performed 58.6% of all home visits (n = 227 321 out of 387 139). Compared with low-volume home visit physicians (n = 6242), the top 5% were more likely to be male and practice in large urban areas, and rarely saw patients who were enrolled to them (median 4% v. 87.5%, standardized mean difference 1.12). High-volume physicians’ home visit patients were younger, had greater levels of healthcare resource utilization, resided in lower-income and large urban neighbourhoods, and were less likely to have a medical home.

Interpretation — A small subset of home visit physicians provided a large proportion of home visits in Ontario. These home visits may be addressing a gap in access to primary care for certain patients, but could be contributing to lower continuity of care.



Salahub C, Kiran T, Na Y, Sinha SK, Stall NM, Ivers NM, Costa AP, Jones A, Lapointe-Shaw L. CMAJ Open. 2023; 11(2):E282-90. Epub 2023 Mar 21.

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