To evaluate how a primary care reform, which aimed to promote interprofessional and interorganizational collaborative practices, affected patients’ experiences of the core dimensions of primary care.
Before-and-after comparison of patients’ perceptions of care at the beginning of family medicine group (FMG) implementation (15 to 20 months after accreditation) and 18 months later.
Five FMGs in the province of Quebec from various settings and types of practice.
A random sample of patients was selected in each FMG; a total of 1046 participants completed both the baseline and follow-up questionnaires.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Patients’ perceptions of relational and informational continuity, organizational and first-contact accessibility, attitude and efficiency of the clinic’s personnel and waiting times (service responsiveness), physician-nurse and primary care physician–specialist coordination, and intra-FMG collaboration were assessed over the telephone, mostly using a modified version of the Primary Care Assessment Tool. Additional items covered patients’ opinions about consulting nurses, patients’ use of emergency services, and patients’ recall of health promotion and preventive care received.
A total of 1275 patients were interviewed at the study baseline, and 82% also completed the follow-up interviews after 18 months (n = 1046). Overall, perceptions of relational and informational continuity increased significantly (P < .05), whereas organizational and first-contact accessibility and service responsiveness did not change significantly. Perception of physician-nurse coordination remained unchanged, but perception of primary care physician–specialist coordination decreased significantly (P < .05). The proportion of participants reporting visits with nurses and reporting use of FMGs’ emergency services increased significantly from baseline to follow-up (P < .05).
This reorganization of primary care services resulted in considerable changes in care practices, which led to improvements in patients’ experiences of the continuity of care but not to improvements in their experiences of the accessibility of care.