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Rural practice characteristics are linked to better patient outcomes, researchers find

Small practice size and number of older patients are key predictors

June 29th 2022

Tagged: Research

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Smaller practice size and the number of older patients registered improves the likelihood of better outcomes, researchers have concluded.

Research by shows that these factors, which are common to rural practices, lead to reduced hospital admissions and lower mortality rates. Patients who usually see the same GP are also more likely to build a trusted relationship with them, adhere to advice, and take preventative actions to improve their health.

Researchers at Queen Mary’s Clinical Effectiveness Group (CEG) analysed the care of one million adults registered at 126 GP practices in East London and found that half (52 per cent) of patients regularly see the same GP. 

Bigger practices, more part time GPs, recruitment difficulties, and a prioritisation of rapid access have all affected continuity of care, the researchers say.

They call on policymakers to measure continuity of care as a marker of practice quality.

Dr Sally Hull, lead author and clinical reader in Primary Care Development at Queen Mary University of London, said: “Improving continuity of care will require incentivisation and engagement from the emerging primary care networks and integrated care systems. There are also opportunities for local initiatives, such as the development of micro-teams within larger practices, or changes to booking systems, but these would need to be underpinned by reliable monitoring.”