, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 1438-1444
Date: 30 May 2012

Outcomes for Resident-Identified High-Risk Patients and Resident Perspectives of Year-End Continuity Clinic Handoffs

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Many patients nationwide change their primary care physician (PCP) when internal medicine (IM) residents graduate. Few studies have examined this handoff.

OBJECTIVE

To assess patient outcomes and resident perspectives after the year-end continuity clinic handoff

DESIGN

Retrospective cohort

PARTICIPANTS

Patients who underwent a year-end clinic handoff in July 2010 and a comparison group of all other resident clinic patients from 2009–2011. PGY2 IM residents surveyed from 2010–2011.

MEASUREMENTS

Percent of high-risk patients after the clinic handoff scheduled for an appointment, who saw their assigned PCP, lost to follow-up, or had an acute visit (ED or hospitalization). Perceptions of PGY2 IM residents surveyed after receiving a clinic handoff.

RESULTS

Thirty graduating residents identified 258 high-risk patients. While nearly all patients (97 %) were scheduled, 29 % missed or cancelled their first new PCP visit. Only 44 % of patients saw the correct PCP and six months later, one-fifth were lost to follow-up. Patients not seen by a new PCP after the handoff were less likely to have appropriate follow-up for pending tests (0 % vs. 63 %, P < 0.001). A higher mean no show rate (NSR) was observed among patients who missed their first new PCP visit (22 % vs. 16 % NSR, p < 0.001) and those lost to follow-up (21 % vs. 17 % NSR, p = 0.019). While 47 % of residents worried about missing important data during the handoff, 47 % reported that they do not perceive patients as “theirs” until they are seen by them in clinic.

CONCLUSIONS

While most patients were scheduled for appointments after a clinic handoff, many did not see the correct resident and one-fifth were lost to follow-up. Patients who miss appointments are especially at risk of poor clinic handoff outcomes. Future efforts should improve patient attendance to their first new PCP visit and increase PCP ownership.

Prior Presentations

This research was presented as an oral presentation at the Society of General Internal Medicine 2011 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ on May 5, 2011 and at the 2011 Midwest Society of General Internal Medicine meeting in Chicago, IL on September 15,2011. It was also presented as a poster at the 2011 Alliance for Academic Medicine Academic Internal Medicine week, Oct 19–23 in Anaheim, CA.