Corvinus
Corvinus

Formal professional relationships between general practitioners and specialists: possible associations with patient health and pharmacy costs

Lublóy, Ágnes and Keresztúri, Judit Lilla and Benedek, Gábor (2015) Formal professional relationships between general practitioners and specialists: possible associations with patient health and pharmacy costs. Working Paper. Corvinus University of Budapest Faculty of Economics, Budapest.

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Abstract

This article investigates whether the strength of formal professional relationships between general practitioners (GPs) and specialists (SPs) affects either the health status of patients or their pharmacy costs. To this end, it measures the strength of formal professional relationships between GPs and SPs through the number of shared patients and proxies the patient health status by the number of comorbidities diagnosed and treated. In strong GP–SP relationships, the patient health status is expected to be high, due to efficient care coordination, and the pharmacy costs low, due to effective use of resources. To test these hypotheses and compare the characteristics of the strongest GP–SP connections with those of the weakest, this article concentrates on diabetes—a chronic condition where patient care coordination is likely important. Diabetes generates the largest shared patient cohort in Hungary, with the highest traffic of specialist medication prescriptions. This article finds that stronger ties result in lower pharmacy costs, but not in higher patient health statuses. Key points for decision makers • The number of shared patients may be used to measure the strength of formal professional relationships between general practitioners and specialists. • A large number of shared patients indicates a strong, collaborative tie between general practitioners and specialists, whereas a low number indicates a weak, fragmented tie. • Tie strength does not affect patient health—strong, collaborative ties between general practitioners and specialists do not involve better patient health than weak, fragmented ties. • Tie strength does affect pharmacy costs—strong, collaborative ties between general practitioners and specialists involve significantly lower pharmacy costs than weak, fragmented ties. • Pharmacy costs may be reduced by lowering patient care fragmentation through channelling a general practitioner’s patients to a small number of specialists and increasing collaboration between general practitioner and specialists. • Limited patient choice is financially more beneficial than complete freedom of choice, and no more detrimental to patient health.

Item Type:Monograph (Working Paper)
Series Name:Corvinus Economics Working Papers - CEWP
Series Number / Identification Number:2015/04
Uncontrolled Keywords:general practitioners, specialists, formal professional relationships, patient sharing, strong vs. weak ties, patient health status, pharmacy costs
JEL classification:C12 - Hypothesis Testing: General
H51 - National Government Expenditures and Health
I19 - Health: Other
Subjects:Social welfare, insurance, health care
ID Code:1868
Deposited By: Ádám Hoffmann
Deposited On:18 Mar 2015 08:45
Last Modified:18 Mar 2015 08:45

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