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Reasons for Referral to Specific Docs Differ Among Physicians

Last Updated: September 27, 2011.

Primary care physicians (PCPs) and medical and surgical specialists differ in their reasons for selecting specific colleagues for referrals, with PCPs more concerned about physician communication and medical record sharing than specialists, according to a study published online Sept. 16 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Primary care physicians (PCPs) and medical and surgical specialists differ in their reasons for selecting specific colleagues for referrals, with PCPs more concerned about physician communication and medical record sharing than specialists, according to a study published online Sept. 16 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Michael L. Barnett, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues investigated why PCPs and specialists choose specific colleagues for referrals, and how these reasons differ according to specialty. A total of 386 office-based patient care specialists, who were treating Medicare patients in 2006, reported any referral within their professional network, and provided up to two reasons for selecting that colleague for the referral. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the likelihood of different specialists endorsing specific reasons for referring to chosen colleagues.

The investigators found that PCPs, medical, and surgical specialists initiated referrals to 66, 49, and 52 percent of their professional-network colleagues, respectively. Compared to PCPs, and after adjustments, the medical specialists were less likely to report ease of communication with colleagues (relative risk [RR], 0.69), and medical and surgical specialists were less likely to report sharing of medical record system as a reason for referral (RR, 0.13 and 0.26 for medical and surgical specialists, respectively).

"We found that PCPs and specialists differed in their reasons for choosing colleagues as referral partners. In particular, PCPs were more likely to be concerned with aspects of physician communication and patient access than specialists," the authors write.

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