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:5/27/2016)... , ... May 27, 2016 , ... Two director-level employees ... YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry (TWIN) 2016 honorees. The award recognizes businesswomen ... For this year, Geri Boone, Director of the MLTSS (Managed Long-Term Services and Supports) ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... ... An influential resource amongst nurses and professionals in the health care world, ... of topics detailing why we appreciate nurses in so many different ways. From exclusive ... being in a major recession to one of the hottest growing professions in any ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... May 27, 2016 , ... ... the factors of a stroke, which we as a society can control and change. ... a stroke occurs nearly every 40 seconds within the United States. Plus, with an ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... , ... May 27, 2016 , ... ... to help educate the many who are unaware of the plight of aphasia. ... will run within the “Stroke Awareness” campaign. , The link between stroke and ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... May 27, 2016 , ... Aimed at nurses and ... interest stories, courtesy of leaders in the nursing and health care industry. It ... leading advocates and associations—namely Jones & Bartlett Learning. , Jones & Bartlett Learning ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... 2016  Granger Diagnostics today announced immediate availability of ... infections. This test ensures discovery of ALL bacteria, ... test requires only a simple swab of the wound ... G. Bostwick , MD, Chief Medical Officer, described ... "We are excited to make available, for the ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , May 25, 2016 MedDay, ... disorders, announces that an oral presentation entitled "High doses of ... MS-SPI trial" will be given by Professor Ayman Tourbah ... 2nd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in ... and related disorders 3" will take place on Sunday, 29 ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ReportsnReports.com adds "Chronic Cough ... provides an overview on therapeutic pipeline of Chronic ... therapeutics assessment by drug target, mechanism of action ... along with latest updates, and featured news and ... in the therapeutic development for Chronic Cough and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: