PCP and specialist communication perceptions vary widely

Primary care physicians and specialists have very different views regarding communication of referrals and consultations, according to a survey in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and could negatively impact the quality and efficiency of care.  

For the study, researchers used a national survey which asked primary care physicians and specialists to report on communication regarding referrals and consultations. 

The researchers found that perceptions of communication between physicians varied greatly.

  • 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.
  • 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 reported not receiving timely communication were more likely to report that their ability to provide high-quality care was threatened. 

The study found that for PCPs and specialists, having adequate time for an office visit was the most important factor in whether physicians were more likely to report sending and receiving information about patient referrals and consultations. 

(Sources: The Archives of Internal Medicine, http://archinte.ama-assn.org, January, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, January 12, 2011)