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Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 May;30(5):975-84. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.1102.

Fewer hospitalizations result when primary care is highly integrated into a continuing care retirement community.

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Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA.


Meeting the medical and social needs of elderly people is likely to be costly, disruptive, and at odds with personal preferences if efforts to do so are not well coordinated. We compared two different models of primary care in four different continuing care retirement communities. In the first model, used in one community, the physicians and two part-time nurse practitioners delivered clinical care only at that site, covered all settings within it, and provided all after-hours coverage. In the second model, used in three communities, on-site primary care physician hours were limited; the same physicians also had independent practices outside the retirement community; and after-hours calls were covered by all members of the practices, including physicians who did not practice on site. We found that residents in the first model had two to three times fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Only 5 percent of those who died did so in a hospital, compared to 15 percent at the other sites and 27 percent nationally. These findings provide insight into what is possible when medical care is highly integrated into a residential retirement setting.

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