Patients may occasionally seek primary care from a source other than your practice, whether it’s a retail clinic in a drug store or another primary care practice across town. It may seem convenient to these patients, but it can add to the fragmentation of health care.
“I have no problem sharing patients with specialists who have expertise that I do not possess, but as a general rule I don't co-manage patients with other primary care providers outside my practice. (Since I'm in solo practice, that means I don't share patients at all.) It makes for fragmented care,” writes family physician Sanford J. Brown, MD. “I cannot be sure what drugs a patient is taking if other doctors are prescribing for the patient as well, nor can I be current on all the medical problems. And I may not agree with another doctor’s plan of care.”
To address this issue when it arises, have a clear policy explaining that patients need a personal physician overseeing their care, someone who can provide comprehensive primary care as well as care coordination when the patient needs specialized services. Although valid exceptions may arise (e.g., seniors who live in another city during the winter), this should be the general rule.
Read the full FPM article, “Why I Don’t Share Patients.”
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