Study finds having a regular GP could improve your health

27 February 2024

The article at a glance

Research co-authored by Professor Stefan Scholtes of Cambridge Judge Business School highlights benefits of consistent doctor visits – both for patients and for GP workload in the NHS.

Category: Faculty news News

A model in which all GP practices had patients seeing the same doctor each visit could improve patient health while significantly reducing doctor workload, says a new study co-authored by Professor Stefan Scholtes of Cambridge Judge Business School and two PhD graduates of the Business School. 

Stefan is Dennis Gillings Professor of Health Management and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Enterprise at Cambridge Judge Business School. 

The study, published in the journal Management Science, is based on data from more than 10 million consultations in 381 English primary care practices over 11 years. 

Continuity increases time between GP visits, and that’s a good thing

The results suggest that patients who have such a ‘continuity of care’ relationship with their GP have on average 18% longer intervals between visits, and the data show “that the productivity benefit of care continuity is larger for older patients, patients with multiple chronic conditions, and patients with mental health conditions.” 

The authors estimate that the total consultation demand in the study’s sample could have fallen by up to 5.2% had all practices offered continuity of care at the level of the top 10% of practices while prioritising patients expected to yield the largest productivity benefits. 

“The study suggests benefits to both the NHS and to patients, as the results translate to the equivalent of a boost in the GP workforce by 5%,” says Stefan. “It shows that continuity of care boosts productivity of the health service, and that is something that is crucial given both our aging society and budgetary restrictions.” 

The study – entitled “Continuity of Care Increases Physician Productivity in Primary Care” – is co-authored by Harshita Kajaria-Montag of Indiana University, a PhD graduate of Cambridge Judge; Michael Freeman of INSEAD, also a PhD graduate of Cambridge Judge; and Stefan Scholtes of Cambridge Judge Business School.