Seniors who consistently see the same physician in an outpatient setting may have a lower chance of visiting the emergency department, according to a recent study.

In the study, published recently in Annals of Emergency Medicine, researchers reviewed the administrative data of more than 3 million Medicare recipients from between 2011 and 2013.

The researchers, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, suggest that the relative risk of an emergency department visit, observation stay, or admission through the emergency department decreased up to 20% for patients with the highest, compared with the lowest, continuity of care, according to a news release from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

“Visits with the same physician or a small number of physicians fosters long-term relationships for Medicare patients, which is ultimately good for their health,” says David Nyweide, PhD, the study’s lead author, in the release.

“The critical factor seems to be consistent visits with one physician or few physicians, not lots of them. Seniors would be well advised to maintain an ongoing relationship with the same physician for many reasons, including avoiding emergency department visits,” he adds.

Annals of Emergency Medicine is the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

[Source: American College of Emergency Physicians]