Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Referral decisions differ between primary care physicians and specialists

September 19, 2011
Springer Science+Business Media
Interventions to influence referral practices need to be tailored by speciality, experts urge.

How do physicians decide which colleague to refer their patient to? It differs depending on whether you ask primary care or specialist physicians, according to research from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, USA, led by Michael Barnett. Primary care physicians are more likely to cite reasons relating to patient access or physician-to-physician communication whereas medical or surgical specialists cite reasons related to patient experience with the chosen physician. Barnett and colleagues' workΉ appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, published by Springer.

Barnett and team examined reasons why primary care and specialist physicians choose certain specific colleagues to refer to, and how those reasons differ by speciality. Using a web-based survey, they asked 616 physicians, who treated 46,937 Medicare patients in 2006, about their referral and information-sharing relationships with other physicians of any speciality.

The researchers first identified referral relationships for each physician. They then asked respondents to identify the two most important reasons for choosing a specific physician the last time they referred a patient to him or her. They grouped reasons for referral into three categories: patient experience with physician; patient access; and physician-to-physician communication. Clinical expertise as a criterion was excluded from the list of reasons because in pre-testing, physicians uniformly chose it as the most important criteria for referral and this enabled them to examine how physicians choose among physicians of similar quality.

Primary care physicians initiated two-thirds of their referrals within their professional network, whereas medical and surgical specialists initiated half of their referrals within their networks. Overall, physicians of all specialities most frequently cited "my patients have good experiences with this physician" among the choices given as the most important reason for selecting that physician, besides clinical expertise.

Specialists and primary care physicians, however, also gave different reasons for choosing referral partners. Specialists were more likely to rely on patient experience with physicians whereas primary care physicians relied more on patient access and physician communication.

To date, much of the work looking at the referral process has focused on primary care physicians as the sole source for referrals, consistent with their role as coordinators of care. The substantial proportion of referral relationships cited by specialists, however, shows that specialists also influence the mix of physicians a patient sees.

The authors conclude: "This study is the first to explore differences in the referral decisions between primary care and specialist physicians. Our findings suggest that interventions to influence referral practices will need to be tailored by speciality."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Referral decisions differ between primary care physicians and specialists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919092616.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, September 19). Referral decisions differ between primary care physicians and specialists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919092616.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Referral decisions differ between primary care physicians and specialists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919092616.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This

More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Told Hospital He Was from Liberia

Ebola Patient Told Hospital He Was from Liberia

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. initially went to a Dallas emergency room last week but was sent home, despite telling a nurse that he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa, the hospital acknowledged Wednesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins