Physician Self-Referral and Health Care Utilization
April 1, 2011
Laura A. Dummit
Physicians are responsible for the majority of health care spending in this country, both directly by providing health care services, and indirectly by referring their patients for other services such as tests, therapies, and procedures. Payers have long grappled with how to control the number, type, and site of these services without inappropriately interfering with the practice of medicine. One particular area of concern has been physician referrals for services that financially benefit the physician because the physician has an ownership interest in the practice or facility that provides the referred service. Research has demonstrated that physician self-referral contributes to higher use of certain services. Some argue, however, that physician ownership arrangements can enhance the quality and continuity of care, improve patient convenience, and help ensure access to services. At this Forum session, researchers presented some of the latest findings on the relationships between physician financial interests and referral patterns.
Jean M. Mitchell, PhD, Professor, Georgetown Public Policy Institute; Brent K. Hollenbeck, MD, MS, Professor, University of Michigan; Rita F. Redberg, MD, , MSc, FACC, FAHA, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Allen J. Taylor, MD, FACC FAHA, Director, Advanced Imaging, Washington Hospital Center, Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University