A group of GPs has developed a new method for measuring continuity of care in general practice.
The doctors, from the St Leonards Research Practice, Exeter, say their index will give quicker results than the standard technique for measuring continuity of care, allowing monthly monitoring.
The St Leonards Index of Continuity of Care enables GPs to track continuity of care for their patients from routine practice data more easily than the usual method – the Usual Provider of Care (UPC) index. This requires several appointments per patient and a relatively long timeframe for accuracy.
The researchers who developed the SLICC method say they found in their own Exeter practice 52% continuity was achieved. All seven doctors in the practice are part-time.
They analysed appointment audit data from 2016-2017 by calculating monthly the percentage of face-to-face appointments for patients on each doctor’s list and comparing the SLICC for different demographic groupings of patients.
In the two-year study period, there were 35,622 GP face-to-face appointments; 1.96 per patient per year, with 51.7% of GP appointments with the patients’ personal doctor.
Patients aged 65 years and over had a higher level of continuity at 64.9%. The mean whole-practice UPC score was 0.61, with ‘usual provider’ being the personal GP for 52.8% and a trainee or locum for 8.1% of patients.
Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, they call on practices to adopt the method to track continuity of care and adjust practice systems to maximise it.
They write: “This method provides working GPs with a simple way to track GP continuity of care monthly. As continuity of care has multiple benefits, it is hoped that this system will be adopted in many practices.”