Improving Patient-Provider Continuity in a Large Urban Academic Primary Care Network

Published:November 12, 2021DOI:



      Although patient-provider continuity improves care delivery and satisfaction, poor continuity with primary care providers (PCP) often exists in academic centers. We aimed to increase patient empanelment from 0% to 90% and then increase the percent of well-child care (WCC) visits scheduled with the PCP from 25.6% to 50%, without decreasing timely access that might result if patients waited for PCP availability.


      Nationwide Children's Hospital Primary Care Network cares for >120,000 mostly Medicaid-enrolled patients across 13 offices. Before 2017, patients were empaneled to an office, not individual PCPs. We empaneled patients to PCPs, reduced provider floating, implemented continuity-promoting scheduling guidelines, scheduled future WCC visits for patients ≤15 months during check-in for their current one, and encouraged online scheduling. We tracked the percentage of all WCC visits that were scheduled with the patient's PCP and the percentage of subsequent WCC visits for patients ≤15 months that were scheduled during the current visit, and provided feedback to schedulers. We followed emergency department (ED) utilization and visit show rates. WCC visit completion rates were tracked using HEDIS metrics.


      Patient empanelment increased from 0% to >90% (P < .001). Patient-provider WCC continuity increased from 25.6% to 54.7% (P < .001). A 20.5% decrease in ED utilization rate was associated with continuity project initiation. Empaneled patients demonstrated higher show rates (76.9%) versus unempaneled patients (71.4%; P < .001). WCC completion rates increased from 52.6% to 60.7%.


      WCC continuity more than doubled after interventions and was associated with decreased ED utilization, higher show rates, and increased timely WCC completion.


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