Most GP patients have multimorbidity
Multimorbidity affects two-thirds of primary care patients and increases costs and service use at all levels, report researchers.
The team behind the study recommends that interventions designed to reduce these burdens should encompass both primary and secondary care.
For the study, Liam Glynn (National University of Ireland, Galway) and team obtained medical records for 18,941 patients living in the Republic of Ireland. They found that 66.2% had multimorbidities (defined as two or more chronic conditions occurring simultaneously).
The risk for multimorbidity rose significantly with increasing age (odds ratio [OR]=1.06 per 9-year increase from 50 years) and with eligibility for free healthcare (OR=1.75).
The annual number of GP consultations also rose in line with the number of chronic conditions, at 3.27, 6.88, and 11.86 for patients with no, two, and more than four conditions, respectively. A similar trend was seen for hospital outpatient visits and total healthcare costs.
Writing in the journal Family Practice, the team concludes: "In order to increase the quality of care delivered to such patients and reduce spiraling healthcare costs, there is a need to focus on co-ordinating and connecting the patient's care journey through the healthcare system while also promoting 'self-management' among all patients with chronic disease."
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By Sarah Guy