Team-based primary care reforms aim to improve care coordination by involving multiple interdisciplinary health professionals in patient care. Team-based primary care may support improved medication management for older adults with polypharmacy and multiple points of contact with the healthcare system. However, little is known about this association. This study compares sociodemographic and prescribing trends among older adults in team-based vs. traditional primary care models in Ontario and Quebec.
We constructed two provincial cohorts using population-level health administrative data from 2006–2018. Our primary exposure was enrollment in a team-based model of care. Key endpoints included adverse drug events (ADEs), potentially inappropriate prescriptions (PIPs), and polypharmacy. We plotted prescribing trends across the observation period (stratified by model of care) in each province. We used standardized mean differences to compare characteristics of older adults and providers, as well as prescribing endpoints.
Formal patient/physician enrollment increased in both provinces since the time of policy implementation; team-based enrollment among older adults was higher in Quebec (47%) than Ontario (33%) by the end of our observation period. The distribution of sociodemographic characteristics was reasonably comparable between team-based and non-team-based patients in both provinces, aside from a persistently higher share of rural patients in team-based care. Most PIPs assessed either declined or remained relatively steady over time, regardless of model of care and province. Several PIPs were more common among team-based patients than non-team-based patients, particularly in Quebec. We did not detect notable trends in ADEs or polypharmacy in either province.
Our findings offer encouraging evidence that many PIPs are declining over time in this population, regardless of patients’ enrollment in team-based care. Rates of decline appear similar across models of care, suggesting these models may not meaningfully influence prescribing endpoints. Additional efforts are needed to understand the impact of team-based care among older adults and improve primary care prescribing practices.