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Potter AJ, Wright B, Akiyama J, Stehlin GG, Trivedi AN, Wolinsky FD. Primary care patterns among dual eligibles with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2023 Apr 1; 71(4):1259-1266.
BACKGROUND: Primary care is essential for persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Prior research suggests that the propensity to provide high-quality, continuous primary care varies by provider setting, but the settings used by Medicare-Medicaid dual-eligibles with ADRD have not been described at the population level. METHODS: Using 2012-2018 Medicare data, we identified dual-eligibles with ADRD. For each person-year, we identified primary care visits occurring in six settings. We calculated descriptive statistics for beneficiaries with a majority of visits in each setting, and conducted a k-means cluster analysis to determine utilization patterns, using the standardized count of primary care visits in each setting. RESULTS: Each year from 2012 to 2018, at least 45.6% of dual-eligibles with ADRD received a majority of their primary care in nursing facilities, while at least 25.2% did so in physician offices. Over time, the share relying on nursing facilities for primary care decreased by 5.2 percentage points, offset by growth in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and miscellaneous settings (2.3 percentage points each). Dual-eligibles relying on nursing facilities had more annual primary care visits (16.1) than those relying on other settings (range: 6.8-10.7 visits). Interpersonal care continuity was also higher in nursing facilities (97.0%) and physician offices (87.9%) than in FQHCs (54.2%), rural health clinics (RHCs, 46.6%), or hospital-based clinics (56.8%). Among dual-eligibles without care continuity, 82.7% were assigned to a cluster with few primary care visits. CONCLUSIONS: A trend toward care in different settings likely reflects improved access to patient-centered primary care. Low rates of interpersonal care continuity in FQHCs, RHCs, and physician offices may warrant concern, unless providers in these settings function as a care team. Nonetheless, every healthcare system encounter presents an opportunity to designate a primary care provider for dual-eligibles with ADRD who use little or no primary care.