From 2015 to 2016 Germany faced an influx of 1.16 million asylum seekers. In the state of Hamburg Primary Care walk-in clinics (PCWC) were commissioned at refugee camps because the high number of residents (57,000 individuals) could not be provided with access to regular healthcare services. Our study aims were (1) to describe the utilization of a PCWC by camp residents, (2) to compare episodes of continuous care with shorter care episodes and (3) to analyse which diagnoses predict episodes of continuous care in this setting.
A retrospective longitudinal observational study was conducted by reviewing all anonymized electronic medical records of a PCWC that operated from 4th November 2015 to 22nd July 2016 at a refugee camp in Hamburg. Episodes of care (EOC) were extracted based on the international classification of primary care-2nd edition (ICPC-2). Outcome parameters were episode duration, principal diagnoses, and medical procedures.
We analysed 5547 consultations of 1467 patients and extracted 4006 EOC. Mean patient age was 22.7 ± 14.8 years, 37.3% were female. Most common diagnoses were infections (44.7%), non-communicable diseases (22.2%), non-definitive diagnoses describing symptoms (22.0%), and injuries (5.7%). Most patients (52.4%) had only single encounters, whereas 19.8% had at least one EOC with a duration of ≥ 28 days (defined as continuous care). Several procedures were more prevalent in EOC with continuous care: Blood tests (5.2 times higher), administrative procedures (4.3), imaging (3.1) and referrals to secondary care providers (3.0). Twenty prevalent ICPC-2-diagnosis groups were associated with continuous care. The strongest associations were endocrine/metabolic system and nutritional disorders (hazard ratio 5.538, p < 0.001), dermatitis/atopic eczema (4.279, p < 0.001) and psychological disorders (4.056, p < 0.001).
A wide spectrum of acute and chronic health conditions could be treated at a GP-led PCWC with few referrals or use of medical resources. But we also observed episodes of continuous care with more use of medical resources and referrals. Therefore, we conclude that principles of primary care like continuity of care, coordination of care and management of symptomatic complaints could complement future healthcare concepts for refugee camps.

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