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Referral and Consultation Communication Between Primary Care and Specialist Physicians: Finding Common Ground

Jan. 10, 2011
Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 171, No. 1
Ann S. O'Malley, James D. Reschovsky

Communication between primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists regarding referrals and consultations is often inadequate, with negative consequences for patients. This article examines PCPs’ and specialists’ perceptions of communication regarding referrals and consultations. It then identified practice characteristics associated with reported communication.

Perceptions of communication regarding referrals and consultations differed. For example, 69.3% of PCPs reported "always" or "most of the time" sending notification of a patient’s history and reason for consultation to specialists, but only 34.8% of specialists said they "always" or "most of the time" received such notification. Similarly, 80.6% of specialists said they "always" or "most of the time" send consultation results to the referring PCP, but only 62.2% of PCPs said they received such information. Physicians who did not receive timely communication regarding referrals and consultations were more likely to report that their ability to provide high-quality care was threatened. The three practice characteristics associated with PCPs and specialists reporting communication regarding referrals and consultations were "adequate" visit time with patients, receipt of quality reports regarding patients with chronic conditions, and nurse support for monitoring patients with chronic conditions.

These modifiable practice supports associated with communication between PCPs and specialists can help inform the ways that resources are focused to improve care coordination.

Access to this article is available at the Archives of Internal Medicine Web site. (Free access.)

 

 

 


 

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