Interventions to improve outpatient referrals from primary care to secondary care
Citation: Akbari A, Mayhew A, Al‐Alawi MA, et al. Interventions to improve outpatient referrals from primary care to secondary care. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008;(10):CD005471.
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare services and resources. Existing research on interventions to improve outpatient referrals from primary care to secondary care may provide useful information for policy makers.
In this systematic review, the authors searched for comparative effectiveness studies of interventions to change or improve outpatient referrals aimed at primary care physicians. They did their most recent search in October 2007. They included 17 studies evaluating professional educational (9 studies), organisational (4) and financial interventions (4), mostly conducted in the UK. They also identified an additional three articles, which are awaiting assessment.
What works: Active local educational interventions involving secondary care specialists and structured referral sheets improved outpatient referral rates.
What doesn’t work: Passive dissemination of local referral guidelines did not lead to improvements in referral behaviour.
Feedback of referral rates did not lead to improvements in referral behaviour.
Discussion with an independent medical adviser did not lead to improvements in referral behaviour.
What’s uncertain: The effects of financial interventions on quality of referral are uncertain.
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