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Same Doctor Results In Better Care, Study Says

This article is more than 10 years old.

New research by Massachusetts General Hospital shows that patients get better care when they're treated consistently by the same primary care physician.

The researchers found that getting bounced from doctor to doctor means patients are less likely to get recommended tests and treatments ranging from mammograms to cholesterol screenings. Steven Atlas of Mass General says although it sounds like common-sense that patients should stick with one doctor, it often doesn't work out that way.

"It does seem obvious, but our health care system has been going in the opposite direction," says Atlas, director of primary care quality improvement at MGH. "More care is being provided by specialists, more care is being provided by non-physicians, or in an urgent care setting. There in many places aren't enough primary care physicians to fill the need."

To solve that problem, Atlas says, patients should have more creative ways to communicate with their primary care physicians, such as by email, cell phone, and group visits.

The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

This program aired on March 4, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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