Barriers to Continuity of Care for Emerging Adults and Services to Overcome Them in Southeastern South Dakota

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We know that continuity of care - understood as the presence of a long-term patient-provider relationship and effective communication and coordination of services amongst members of a health care team - promotes positive health outcomes, including reduced mortality, lower healthcare costs, increased patient satisfaction, and increased delivery of preventative services. Yet, emerging adults often do not receive adequate continuity of care. This research project investigates: 1) existing barriers to continuity of care amongst emerging adults in southeastern South Dakota; 2) the services available in the region to help overcome these barriers; and 3) the limitations of these services. I conducted eight semi-structured expert interviews with area health experts and collected ethnographic data during a preceptorship experience in family medicine in Yankton, SD. The most frequently mentioned barriers to continuity of care amongst emerging adults in southeastern South Dakota were the lack of a primary care provider (PCP), a lack of patient readiness in the transfer from pediatric care to adult care, the extent of insurance coverage, and problems with the transfer of electronic medical records (EMR) between health care facilities. Telemedicine, EMRs, a multi-specialty clinic, access to quality health care professionals, and access to health care outside of the clinical setting were identified as services available to help overcome these barriers. This study contributes to a new perspective to important health care issues facing emerging adults in southeastern South Dakota and encourages a culture of mindfulness about personal health, quality health care, and positive health outcomes for all individuals.

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Louisa Roberts

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