Navigation Links
Rate of physician referrals nearly doubled
Date:1/23/2012

BOSTON, MA -- Physician referral rates in the United States doubled between 1999 and 2009, a new study finds, an increase that likely contributes to the rising costs of health care.

The increase in referral rates coincides with an increase in chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes. The results are staggering: over the same time period, the estimated absolute number of visits resulting in a referral increased 159 per cent, from 40.6 million to 105 million.

"If you add that up, it's real money," said Bruce Landon, senior author of the paper and professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers found a 92 percent increase in referral rates (from 4.83 to 9.29 percent) over the last decade, analyzing a nationally representative sample of 845,243 ambulatory patient visits from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys, 1993-2009.

"Understanding trends in physician referrals is critical both for improving patient care and for managing costs," said Michael Barnett, lead author on the study and a first-year resident in internal medicine and primary care at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The results will be published January 23 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. For many years, the rate of referrals stayed flat, until about ten years ago, when they began a steady climb. This paper is the first research to analyze referral data since the trend began. The marked increase in referral rates is likely due to increased specialization in medical care, and increasing responsibilities for primary care physicians during a typical visit. "Sometimes physicians may find it easier to refer a patient to another doctor than to find the necessary time to spend with him or her," said coauthor Zirui Song, an HMS student and PhD student in health policy.

The researchers noted that referrals to specialists are often gateways to a cascade of potentially costly services which may or may not be needed: The cost associated with a referral isn't just the cost of a single visit, it's the potential for an ongoing series of visits, diagnostic tests, procedures and hospitalizations that might result.

In some cases, a more conservative approach can have better results and lower costs. For example, instead of referring a patient with ankle pain for an MRI and a visit to an orthopedist, a primary care physician might first recommend rest and physical therapy.

"This study is step one, an attempt to start to get our heads around the question by describing the basic epidemiology of physician referrals," said Landon. In order to manage the rising costs of health care and guarantee the best outcomes for patients, he added, researchers need to understand the interactions between networks of referring physicians and the appropriateness of referrals.


'/>"/>
Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. MedPage Today(R) What Your Physicians Are Reading
2. The Case for the iPad: Mobile Charge Capture for Physicians
3. Medical Transcription Services and EHR Provider MxSecure Launches New Enhanced Website with Goal of Improved Physician Productivity
4. Orthopaedic Physician Dr. Brett Smith Joins Baptist Health Care as Total Joint Specialist
5. WebMD Launches New Version of Free Mobile Application for Physicians
6. Sunquest Introduces Integrated Clinical Environment Physician Portal Solution in US
7. Global Medical Staffing Extends Locum Tenens Physician Placement to the Middle East
8. Pay-for-performance programs show positive impact on low-performing physicians
9. New Gallup Poll Quantifies U.S. Physician Opinions on the Scope of Defensive Medicine Practices
10. Physician Assistants Call on Congress for Policies That Promote High-Quality Patient Care
11. Aprima and Pacific Medical IT Partner to Provide Electronic Health Records to Physician Practices
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... OBISPO, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... or dementia. However, many long-term care insurance companies have a waiver for care if ... the 90-day elimination period, when the family pays for care, is often waived, so ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... NJ (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global ... at scenic Alexandria Park in Milford, NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global ... physical activity. The fun run is geared towards children of all ages; it ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... Software Development, has been awarded a contract by the Center for Medicare and ... aims to accelerate the enterprise use of Agile methodologies in a consistent and ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Del. (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... and advisory services for healthcare compliance program management, will showcase a range of ... National Association for Assisted Living (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... meet the demand of today’s consumer and regulatory authorities worldwide. From Children’s to ... and tested to meet the highest standard. , These products are also: ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/4/2017)... 2017  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ... PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across Massachusetts , ... by offering no-cost* flu shots through the end of the month. ... insurance regulations. ... get a flu shot is by the end of October, according to ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... Halo Labs announces the European launch of their new ... at MIBio 2017 in Cambridge, U.K on ... in biopharmaceutical samples with unprecedented speed and sensitivity while using far ... Membrane Imaging. ... particle analysis system ...
(Date:9/27/2017)... and NEW YORK , Sept. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... health and big data solutions, today announced that its MyDario product is ... your local TV listings for when The Dr. Oz Show airs in ... The nine-time ... month. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: