Older White Women Tend to Have More Health Care Contact Days a Year Than Other Races

Older adults have a mean of 20.7 total health care contact days per year, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ishani Ganguli, M.D., M.P.H., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues characterized health care contact days among community-dwelling adults aged 65 years and older in a cross-sectional study involving nationally representative 2019 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data linked to claims. Patient factors associated with ambulatory and total contact days were examined.

The researchers found that 6,619 older adults had a mean of 17.3 and 20.7 ambulatory and total contact days, respectively, in the year, in weighted results; 11.1 percent had 50 or more total contact days.

Most contact days were spent on ambulatory care, including primary care visits, specialty care visits, tests, imaging, procedures, and treatments (3.5, 5.7, 5.3, 2.6, 2.5, and 5.7, respectively).

About half of the test and imaging days (48.6 and 50.1 percent, respectively) were not on the same days as office visits. Younger age, female sex, White race, non-Hispanic ethnicity, higher income, higher educational attainment, urban residence, more chronic conditions, and care-seeking behaviors were factors associated with more ambulatory contact days.

“Our results demonstrate wide variation in health care contact days and suggest the potential for health system leaders, policymakers, and researchers to use this measure and its components alongside complementary measures of care quality to improve care for older adults and their care partners,” the authors write.

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