Specialist referral rate nearly doubles in 10 years

01/24/2012 | New York Times (tiered subscription model), The

The rate of referrals to other providers, often a specialist, grew almost twofold from 4.8% in 1999 to 9.3% in 2009, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The number of visits as a result of referrals jumped from 40.6 million to 105 million during the same period. "This evolution in care patterns may be playing a role in the rising trajectory of health care spending in the U.S., as referrals to specialists may lead to increased use of higher-cost services," researchers from Harvard Medical School said.

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