Continuity of care is a relationship with your primary care practitioner (PCP) that is ongoing over time, during periods of illness and health. When your health care provider knows you as a whole person, he or she can understand your specific needs for information and care related to your illness.
Continuity of care reduces the risks of unnecessary testing and the potential for medical errors. Your provider already knows your past medical and personal history as well as the circumstances of your daily life. So, any decisions made are the best ones for you.
At times, patients may need to seek care from medical specialists and behavioral health care providers. In these situations, continuity of care relates to the accurate transfer of medical information between your health provider and the medical or behavioral health specialist. With advances in technologies, many patients believe that their medical record is available to all providers at any time, but this is not always true.
To assure your health care providers are communicating effectively with each other, you will be required to sign a release of medical information. This release allows you to specify which information may be shared and with whom it will be shared. To be certain your health care providers share necessary information, ask if a release of information needs to be signed.
Continuity of care is not a substitute for active involvement in your own care, especially if you see more than one health care provider. If you have received care from medical or behavioral health specialists, be sure to share that information with your primary care practitioner (PCP). Knowing what problems you have had and which medications you take will help your provider give you safe, quality medical care