Role of Interprofessional primary care teams in preventing avoidable hospitalizations and hospital readmissions in Ontario, Canada: a retrospective cohort study
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BACKGROUND: Improving health system value and efficiency are considered major policy priorities internationally. Ontario has undergone a primary care reform that included introduction of interprofessional teams. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between receiving care from interprofessional versus non-interprofessional primary care teams and ambulatory care sensitive condition (ACSC) hospitalizations and hospital readmissions. METHODS: Population-based administrative databases were linked to form data extractions of interest between the years of 2003-2005 and 2015-2017 in Ontario, Canada. The data sources were available through ICES. The study design was a retrospective longitudinal cohort. We used a "difference-in-differences" approach for evaluating changes in ACSC hospitalizations and hospital readmissions before and after the introduction of interprofessional team-based primary care while adjusting for physician group, physician and patient characteristics. RESULTS: As of March 31st, 2017, there were a total of 778 physician groups, of which 465 were blended capitation Family Health Organization (FHOs); 177 FHOs (22.8%) were also interprofessional teams and 288 (37%) were more conventional group practices ("non-interprofessional teams"). In this period, there were a total of 13,480 primary care physicians in Ontario of whom 4848 (36%) were affiliated with FHOs-2311 (17.1%) practicing in interprofessional teams and 2537 (18.8%) practicing in non-interprofessional teams. During that same period, there were 475,611 and 618,363 multi-morbid patients in interprofessional teams and non-interprofessional teams respectively out of a total of 2,920,990 multi-morbid adult patients in Ontario. There was no difference in change over time in ACSC admissions between interprofessional and non-interprofessional teams between the pre- and post intervention periods. There were no statistically significant changes in all cause hospital readmission s between the post- and pre-intervention periods for interprofessional and non-interprofessional teams. CONCLUSIONS: Our study findings indicate that the introduction of interprofessional team-based primary care was not associated with changes in ACSC hospitalization or hospital readmissions. The findings point for the need to couple interprofessional team-based care with other enablers of a strong primary care system to improve health services utilization efficiency.
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