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Impact of physician access and continuity of care on health outcomes of New Brunswickers with chronic health conditions

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Chris Folkins
Project Number: P0089
Year Approved: 2022

Project Description

This study aims to improve our understanding of how having – and not having – routine access to primary care impacts the health of New Brunswickers, and New Brunswick’s health care system. We will quantify and characterize the population of NB residents with chronic conditions who lack access to routine primary care, and compare a number of outcomes in this population to those among individuals who have routine access to care. Access to primary care will be assessed via two proxy measures: 1) Access to physician care, defined by number of physician (and nurse practitioner) visits over a fixed time interval compared to a pre-determined threshold; and 2) Continuity of physician (and nurse practitioner) care as measured by the Usual Provider Continuity (UPC) index. Outcomes will include hospitalizations and readmissions, length of hospital stay, mortality during and following hospitalization, immunization rates for key vaccinations, indicators of disease management and incidence of preventive screening. Economic implications of the outcomes (eg. costs associated with excess hospitalizations and deficits in immunization, disease management and preventive screening) will also be explored using previously published average cost values in conjunction with our outcome data. 
This work will provide insight into how deficits in access to primary care are affecting the health of New Brunswickers and the sustainability of our health care system, and is anticipated to underscore the importance of connecting more New Brunswickers with primary care providers. By quantifying the health and economic toll of primary care deficits in the province, our results will help inform and prioritize policy decisions surrounding health system management and spending. 

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