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:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Experts from the American Institutes for Research ... June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. , AIR experts ... planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR researchers will be ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Lewisville, TX (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... in the United States, named Dr. Sesan Ogunleye, as the Medical Director of its ... be the facility Medical Director of our new Mesquite location,” said Dr. James M. ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Montreal, Canada (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... the pursuit of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high ... low, risk more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. ... and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. ... rocks at my other children and say he was going to kill them. If ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® ... American Cancer Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to ... and other adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... LONDON , June 23, 2016 ... environments  Oticon , industry leaders in ... the launch of Oticon Opn ™, the world,s ... world of possibilities for IoT devices.      ... Opn, Oticon introduces a number of ,world firsts,: ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research ... "Surgical Procedure Volumes: Global Analysis (United States, China, Japan, ... report to their offering. ... tool for healthcare business planners, provides surgical procedure volume ... surgery trends with an in-depth analysis of growth drivers ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today announced ... research organization as its newest member.  ... president and chief scientific officer, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, will ... Board of Directors. ... us in support of our efforts to conduct ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: