Korean J Prev Med.  1996 Mar;29(1):133-143.

Referral Patterns and Needs for Specialist Care among Patient Referred from Health Center

Abstract

This study was conducted to assess the referral patterns to specialist from general practitioners in health center and perceived needs of referred patients for specialist care in health center. The study subjects were 249 patients who visited to health centers and were referred to other medical facilities. The data were obtained from questionnaire survey which was conducted in Kyongjuu-city Health center, Seongju-Gun Health center and Koryong-Gun Health center in Kyongsangbuk-Do, from June 10 to october 17, 1995. The total referral rate was 2.7%. The proportion of patients who wished to be referred to medical specialists was 85.9%, and the proportion of patients referred by general practitioners in health centers was 14.1%. Among the patients who wished to be referred to medical specialists, 45.9% visited directly to health centers, 34.6% visited health centers via local clinics and 19.5% visited health centers to get referral permission only. The reasons for getting referral permission in health centers were easy geographical accessibility(34.6 %), easy to get referral permission in health centers(27.l%), and very difficult to get referral permission in local clinics(l6.4%). Among the diseases of referred patients, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue were most prevalent on a whole, but diseases of nervous system and sensory organs were comparatively high among the patients who wished to be referred to medical specialists and infectious and parasitic diseases were comparatively high among the patients referred by general practitioners in health centers. The most favorable medical facility was general hospital including university hospital in both groups of patients who wished to be referred to medical specialist and the patient referred by general practitioners in health centers. Regarding the needs for specialist care in health center, 75.2% patients who wished to be referred to medical specialists and 74.3% of patients referred by general practitioners in health center wanted the specialist care. The most frequently requested speciality is internal medicine(47.1%), and then orthopedics and general surgery. Based on above results, this study revealed that the majority of patients referred from health center wished to be referred to medical specialists at their own will, so, referral system at health center level should be changed. And if specialist care in health center be provided, the medical care by internist could be provided first, and then that of orthopedics and general surgery could be provided. These kinds of medical cares could be covered by local clinicians as a part-time job on a voluntary basis.

Keyword

referral pattern; perceived needs for specialist care; health center
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