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Low-acuity emergency department use among patients in different primary care models in Hamilton and Ontario


Jurisdictions such as Hamilton, Ontario, where most primary care practices participate in patient enrolment models with enhanced after-hours access, may demonstrate overall improved health equity outcomes. Non-urgent Emergency Department (ED) use has been suggested as an indicator of primary care access; however, the impact of primary care access on ED use is uncertain and likely varies by patient and contextual factors. This population-based, retrospective study investigated whether or not different primary care models were associated with different rates of non-urgent ED visits in Hamilton, a city with relatively high neighbourhood marginalization, compared to the rest of Ontario from 2014/2015 to 2017/2018. In Ontario, enrolment capitation-based practices had more non-urgent ED visits than non-enrolment fee-for-service practices. In Hamilton, where most of the city's family physicians are in enrolment capitation-based practices, differences between models were minimal. The influence of primary care reforms may differ depending on how they are distributed within regions.



Ly O, Price D, Saskin R, Howard M. Healthc Manage Forum. 2021; 34(4):234-9. Epub 2021 May 10.

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