For patients with chronic illnesses, poor communication and coordination between the primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists treating them increase the risk of serious illness and death. Hypothesizing that direct, interactive communication between PCPs and specialists would improve care, the authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported study analyzed previously published research findings on the effects of such collaboration for patients with diabetes, psychiatric conditions, and cancer.
What the Study Found
The authors extracted data from 23 studies that looked at the impact of collaboration between PCPs and specialists on patient outcomes, focusing on "interactive communication"—direct interaction between PCPs and specialists via face-to-face, videoconferencing, telephone, or e-mail exchanges. The researchers found that interactive communication between PCPs and two types of specialists, psychiatrists and endocrinologists, was associated with improved patient outcomes.
Interactive communication between PCPs and specialists can help improve outcomes for patients with chronic illnesses. Further research is needed to determine how to incorporate interactive communication into existing integrated care models.