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The impact of primary care practice models on indicators of unplanned healthcare utilization for Ontario adults newly diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a retrospective cohort study


Background — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a highly prevalent chronic disease. Most of the care for this population occurs within the primary care setting; however, the extent to which different primary care practice models influence the outcomes of patients with COPD remains unclear.

Objective — The study aimed to compare and analyze the influence of different primary care practice models on indicators of unplanned healthcare utilization among newly diagnosed COPD patients in Ontario.

Design — A retrospective cohort study was conducted using health administrative database within the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. The cohort included persons who were 35 years and older with physician-diagnosed COPD between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2019. Patients were assigned into 3 practice models: team-based, traditional, and no enrolment. The primary outcomes examined was unplanned healthcare utilization, specifically emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. To account for excessive zero values, the zero inflated negative binomial (ZINB) models were used to analyze the association between different practice models and unplanned healthcare utilization.

Results — Among 57,145 individuals who met the inclusion criteria, 55,994 were included in the regression analysis. Of the included participants, 62.8% of patients were in the traditional group, 30.3% were in the team-based group, and 6.9% were in the no enrolment group. Between 2014 and 2019, 70.7% of the cohort had at least 1 all-cause ED visit without hospitalization. The adjusted ZINB models showed no significant difference in risks of experiencing an unplanned healthcare utilization between the team-based and traditional groups. However, patients in the no enrolment group had a significantly higher risk of ED visit without hospitalization regardless of cause, ED visit with hospitalization regardless of cause, and 30-day readmissions regardless of cause.

Conclusions — Primary care practice models are complex, influenced by remuneration and organizational structures, reinforcing the need for further research to enhance our understanding of primary care reforms. Furthermore, given the growing shortage of primary care providers, patients with COPD and other chronic conditions are particularly vulnerable.



Sheng R, Tranmer JE, Godfrey C, Rotter T. J Prim Care Community Health. 2023; 14:21501319231201080. Epub 2023 Sep 22.

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