ZonMw grant for research project ‘Optimising personal continuity for older patients in general practice: a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial’

Otto Maarsingh   Otto Maarsingh

Otto Maarsingh, GP and researcher at the department of General Practice & Elderly Care Medicine of the Amsterdam UMC (location VUmc) received a ZonMw grant of €248.850,- for his research project ‘Optimising personal continuity for older patients in general practice: a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial’.

Continuity of care is a widely accepted core principle of general practice. The benefits of personal continuity have been studied extensively and include a better patient-provider relationship, increased patient and doctor satisfaction, improved uptake of preventive care, higher medication adherence, less overuse of medical procedures, higher quality of patients’ life, fewer hospital admissions, less healthcare costs, and reduction in long-term mortality.

However, current changes in society and healthcare represent a threat to personal continuity. Patients and doctors are increasingly mobile and solo practice is becoming rare. The number of patients with chronic diseases rises, and patients increasingly receive care from multiple professionals employed by different organisations. Most general practitioners work part-time and reorganize themselves into large group practices. Other healthcare workers such as the practice nurse have entered general practice. All these changes potentially fragment care and reduce personal continuity. Especially older patients suffer the consequences of fragmentation and discontinuity of care, because they are likely to have multiple chronic conditions and benefit the most from personal continuity. Therefore, strategies to improve continuity (or reduce discontinuity) of care in older patients are highly warranted, especially because global demographic trends suggest that the number of adults aged 60 years or older will double in the next 35 years.

The overall aim of this project is to develop and evaluate a multi-component intervention (‘toolkit’) designed to optimise personal continuity for older patients in Dutch general practice. The toolkit will become online available for all general practices in The Netherlands.

Dr. Otto Maarsingh is a senior-researcher at the Department of General Practice & Elderly Care Medicine of the Amsterdam UMC (location VUmc) and general practitioner at the University General Practice of the VUmc.