Problems with implementing guidelines: a randomised controlled trial of consensus management of dyspepsia.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility and benefit of developing guidelines for managing dyspepsia by consensus between general practitioners (GPs) and specialists and to evaluate their introduction on GPs' prescribing, use of investigations, and referrals. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial of effect of consensus guidelines agreed between GPs and specialists on GPs' behaviour. SETTING: Southampton and South West Hampshire Health District, United Kingdom. SUBJECTS: 179 GPs working in 45 practices in Southampton district out of 254 eligible GPs, 107 in the control group and 78 in the study group. MAIN MEASURES: Rates of referral and investigation and costs of prescribing for dyspepsia in the six months before and after introduction of the guidelines. RESULTS: Consensus guidelines were produced relatively easily. After their introduction referral rates for upper gastrointestinal symptoms fell significantly in both study and control groups, but no significant change occurred in either group in the use of endoscopy or radiology, either in terms of referral rates, patient selection, or findings on investigation. No difference was observed between the control and study group in the number of items prescribed, but prescribing costs rose by 25% (from 2634 pounds to 3215 pounds per GP) in the study group, almost entirely due to an increased rate of prescription of ulcer-healing agents. CONCLUSION: Developing district guidelines for managing dyspepsia by consensus between GPs and specialists was feasible. However, their acceptance and adoption was variable and their measured effects on some aspects of clinical behaviour were relatively weak and not necessarily associated with either decreased costs or improved quality of care. (+info)
Registrars' and senior registrars' perceptions of their audit activities.
OBJECTIVES: To ascertain the level and quality of audit activity among junior doctors, their attitudes to audit, and their views on its educational value. DESIGN: Postal questionnaire survey in April 1991. SETTING: Yorkshire region. SUBJECTS: All 610 registrars and senior registrars recorded as employed in the region. MAIN MEASURES: Grade, current specialty, details of last audit participated in and its educational usefulness, and attitude to audit. RESULTS: 255 (41.8%) completed questionnaires were returned, 148 from registrars and 101 from senior registrars; grade was not indicated in six. 27 respondents were in general medicine, 26 in general surgery, 30 in anaesthetics, and 36 in psychiatry; other specialties had fewer than 20 respondents. About a fifth (54) of respondents, most in psychiatry (19/36, 53%), had not participated in audit. Among the 201 who had participated, the audit topics covered most components of care (access to services (47, 23%), communication (51, 25%), and appropriateness (158, 79%) and effectiveness (157, 78%) of treatment); only 84 (41%) audits set standards, and in only half of them had the doctors been involved in doing so. Doctors responsible for gathering data and those responsible for collating and reporting data found their experience significantly less useful than those who were not. 172 (86%) respondents considered that audit had helped patient care. Suggested improvements to the educational value of audit were mostly for better methods but included requests for less "witch hunting," better feedback, more training, more time, and more participation by consultants. CONCLUSIONS: The educational value of audit to junior doctors could be improved by better audit methods, guidance, and feedback. (+info)
Diabetes care: who are the experts?
OBJECTIVES: To identify issues that patients and professionals consider important in diabetes care and differences in their priorities for care and to determine patients' and professionals' judgements of the relative importance of their chosen priorities. DESIGN: Structured group interviews using the nominal group technique. SETTING: Five district health authorities on Tyneside. SUBJECTS: Five nominal groups: expert (seven), non-expert (seven) health care professionals; insulin dependent (four), non-insulin dependent patients (eight); and carers of diabetic patients (eight). MAIN MEASURES: Items important in diabetes care to each nominal group (themes of care), ranked into a series of "top 10" items for each group, and allocated a score according to relative importance to individual members; scores were standardised by individual weighting and group weighting for comparison within and between groups. RESULTS: Patients and professionals agreed that information given to patients, interaction between professionals and patients, patient autonomy, and access were important for good diabetes care, but the importance assigned to each differed. Thus the professionals emphasised empathy and aspects of good communication and patients the desire to know enough to live a "normal" life. Differences were also found within the patient groups; these related to changes in patients' needs at specific points in the development of their illness and in their orientations to care. CONCLUSION: Patients differ from professionals in their orientation to diabetes care, and they can, and should, be involved in setting priorities for care. Since these priorities are dynamic further work is needed to explore the nature of patient satisfaction with diabetes care. (+info)
Patterns of anti-inflammatory therapy in the post-guidelines era: a retrospective claims analysis of managed care members.
Published and widely disseminated guidelines for the care and management of asthma characterize asthma as a chronic, inflammatory disease and propose specific recommendations for therapy with inhaled anti-inflammatory medications. In a retrospective analysis of medical and pharmacy claims data of approximately 28,000 asthmatic members from five managed care settings, the dominant pattern of pharmacologic therapy that emerged was the use of bronchodilators without inhaled anti-inflammatory drug therapy. In addition, a significant proportion of asthmatic patients received no prescription drug therapy for asthma. Less than one third of asthmatic patients received any anti-inflammatory therapy and the majority of these received one or two prescriptions per year. Specialist physicians were two to three times more likely than non-specialists during a study period of 1 year to prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication, and were half as likely to have their asthmatic patients experience an emergency department or hospital event. This database analysis suggests that greater conformity with guidelines and/or access to specialist physician care for asthmatic members will lead to improved patient outcomes. (+info)
Referrals by general internists and internal medicine trainees in an academic medicine practice.
Patient referral from generalists to specialists is a critical clinic care process that has received relatively little scrutiny, especially in academic settings. This study describes the frequency with which patients enrolled in a prepaid health plan were referred to specialists by general internal medicine faculty members, general internal medicine track residents, and other internal medicine residents; the types of clinicians they were referred to; and the types of diagnoses with which they presented to their primary care physicians. Requested referrals for all 2,113 enrolled prepaid health plan patients during a 1-year period (1992-1993) were identified by computer search of the practice's administrative database. The plan was a full-risk contract without carve-out benefits. We assessed the referral request rate for the practice and the mean referral rate per physician. We also determined the percentage of patients with diagnoses based on the International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, who were referred to specialists. The practice's referral request rate per 100 patient office visits for all referral types was 19.8. Primary care track residents referred at a higher rate than did nonprimary care track residents (mean 23.7 vs. 12.1; P < .001). The highest referral rate (2.0/100 visits) was to dermatology. Almost as many (1.7/100 visits) referrals were to other "expert" generalists within the practice. The condition most frequently associated with referral to a specialist was depression (42%). Most referrals were associated with common ambulatory care diagnoses that are often considered to be within the scope of generalist practice. To improve medical education about referrals, a better understanding of when and why faculty and trainees refer and don't refer is needed, so that better models for appropriate referral can be developed. (+info)
Subspecialist referrals in an academic, pediatric setting: rationale, rates, and compliance.
Appropriate referrals reduce healthcare costs and enhance patient satisfaction. We evaluated the subspecialty referral pattern of a managed care general pediatric office over a 4-month period. Three-hundred-forty-six referrals (267 meeting inclusion criteria) to 24 subspecialties were generated during 4,219 office visits, with five subspecialties receiving 59% of the referrals. The main objective of each referral was management (100), diagnostic assistance (75), special procedure (63), or a combination (29). Patients kept less than half of the referral appointments, with the highest (80%) and lowest (28%) compliance rates observed in cardiology and ophthalmology, respectively. Appointments made within four weeks of the referral were more likely to be kept than those with greater lag time (P = 0.001). The subspecialists prepared written, post-consultation responses to the referring physician in 73% of cases. Presumptive and post-consultation diagnoses were congruent in 78% of those cases in which both diagnoses were noted. Overall, the managed care format enabled our practice to track referral outcomes. The subspecialists' written responses also allowed for an educational exchange between physicians. Compliance with referral appointments is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed. (+info)
Attitudes and behavioral intentions regarding managed care: a comparison of academic and community physicians.
Physicians' attitudes toward managed care and the impact of these attitudes on behaviors that affect patient care are important factors in managed care reform. In addition, the attitudes of academic physicians may influence their willingness to reform medical education in an effort to prepare students to practice under managed care. Although it is a conventional opinion that the academic health center and its academic physicians are antagonistic toward managed care, there has not been a direct comparison of the attitudes of these physicians to those of practicing community physicians. We used a self-administered questionnaire to assess attitudes toward managed care and behavioral intentions regarding practices related to managed care; a sample of academic physicians (n = 129) was compared with a sample of community physicians (n = 307). Community physicians were less negative in their evaluations of the quality of care in a managed care environment, but no differences were identified between the two groups with regard to the cost-effectiveness, inevitability, or need to adapt to managed care. Academic specialists were more likely than academic primary care physicians to rate managed care as something to which they needed to adapt. Community physicians were less likely to report a willingness to change their referral patterns. Aggregating across practice type, we also uncovered systematic differences between primary care and specialist physicians. The data suggest that opinions about quality and cost-containment in managed care are significant correlates of intentions to change practice behaviors. (+info)
The economic functions of carve outs in managed care.
This paper considers the economic functions of contracting separately for a portion of the insurance risk, offering both the payer's (i.e., employer's) and the health plan's perspective. Four major forms of carve outs are discussed: (1) payer specialty carve outs from all health plans; (2) payer specialty carve outs from only indemnity and preferred provider organization arrangements; (3) individual health plan carve outs to specialty vendors; and (4) group practice carve outs to specialty organizations. The paper examines whether carving out care fosters the payer's goal of delivering reasonable healthcare efficiently, how adverse selection affects the provision of healthcare, and the costs of providing this specialized care. (+info)