-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Primary care and specialist
physicians use different criteria when deciding to refer a patient
to another doctor, a new study finds.
The web-based survey of 616 physicians found that after clinical
expertise, primary care doctors consider issues such as patient
access or doctor-to-doctor communication, while specialists tend to
base their decisions on their other patients' experiences with the
Two-thirds of referrals by primary care physicians and half of
referrals by specialists were made within their professional
The study by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and
Women's Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was
published online Sept. 16 in the
Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Most previous research into the patient referral process has
focused on primary care physicians as the sole source for
referrals. But this study shows that specialist physicians also
influence the mix of physicians patients see, the researchers
"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 specialty," they concluded in a journal news release.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers
advice for choosing
quality health care.
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