The introduction of Medicare Benefits Schedule items for allied health professionals in 2004 was a pivotal event in the public funding of non-medical primary care services. This commentary seeks to provide supplementary discussion of the article by Menz (Utilisation of podiatry services in Australia under the Medicare Enhanced Primary Care program, 2004-2008 Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2009, 2:30), by placing these findings within the context of the podiatry profession, clinical decision making and the broader health workforce and government policy.
BACKGROUND: To better understand the reasons why some fee-for-service physicians have high billing levels, the authors compared the practice and demographic characteristics of general practitioners and family physicians (GP/FPs) who submitted over $400,000 in annual Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) fee-for-service claims in 1994-95 with those of GP/FPs who billed between $35,000 and $400,000. METHODS: The authors describe the OHIP billing and physician characteristic data for fiscal year 1994-95. They used multivariate logistic regression to determine factors independently associated with high billing status. RESULTS: A total of 219 GP/FPs (2.5% of the GP/FPs in Ontario) billed over $400,000 in 1994-95. Of these, 14 had billing patterns similar to those of specialists, and 27 billed predominantly for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (particularly physiotherapy). The remaining 178 (81.3%) billed for a mix of services similar to that of other GP/FPs but on average had 2.6 times the volume of patient assessments and a greater share of their total billings derived from diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (9.1% v. 5.6%). Multivariate analysis indicated that these high-volume GP/FPs were less likely than GP/FPs who billed between $35,000 and $400,000 to be 60 years of age or older (odds ratio [OR] 0.09, p < 0.05) and female (OR 0.21) and were more likely to be foreign graduates (OR 1.85) and practising in a region with low physician supply (OR 0.45 for each increase of 1 physician per 1000 population). Metropolitan Toronto was an outlier to the latter relation and was more likely to have high-volume GP/FPs (OR 16.89). INTERPRETATION: High-billing GP/FPs attained their high billing levels by maintaining large numbers of patient visits and by performing procedures. Further research is needed to determine the time spent per patient and the quality of care delivered by these physicians as well as the appropriateness of the procedures that they perform.
The recent primary care policy debate in Australia has centred on access to primary medical (general practice) services. In Australia, access is heavily influenced by Commonwealth Government patient rebates that provide incentives for general practitioners not to charge copayments to patients (bulk billing). A steady decline in key access indicators (bulk billing) has led the Howard Government to introduce a set of changes that move Medicare from a universal scheme, to one increasingly targeted at providing services to more disadvantaged Australians. In doing so, another scene in the story of the contest between universal health care and selective provision in Australia has been written. This paper explores the immediate antecedents and consequences of the changes and sets them in the broader context of policy development for primary care in Australia.
In 2001, the New Zealand government introduced its Primary Health Care Strategy (PHCS), aimed at strengthening the role of primary health care, in order to improve health and to reduce inequalities in health. As part of the Strategy, new funding was provided to reduce the fees that patients pay when they use primary health care services in New Zealand, to improve access to services and to increase service use. In this article, we estimate the impact of the new funding on general practitioner and practice nurse visit fees paid by patients and on consultation rates. The analyses involved before-and-after monitoring of fees and consultation rates in a random sample of 99 general practices and covered the period from June 2001 (pre-Strategy) to mid-2005.
Fees fell particularly in Access (higher need, higher per capita funded) practices over time for doctor and nurse visits. Fees increased over time for many in Interim (lower need, lower per capita funded) practices, but they fell for patients aged 65 years and over as new funding was provided for this age group. There were increases in consultation rates across almost all age, funding model (Access or Interim), socio-demographic and ethnic groups. Increases were particularly high in Access practices.
The Strategy has resulted in lower fees for primary health care for many New Zealanders, and consultation rates have also increased over the past few years. However, fees have not fallen by as much as expected in government policy given the amount of extra public money spent since there are limited requirements for practices to reduce patients' fees in line with increases in public funding for primary care.
Economics and reimbursement have become a daily part of practicing physicians' lives. Yet, few internal medicine (IM) programs have offered formal curricula during residency about practice management or economics.
To determine perceived, desired, and actual knowledge of Medicare billing and reimbursement among residents compared with community-based General Internists.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS
Cross-sectional needs assessment survey of community and university-based second-year IM residents from 4 geographic regions of the United States.
One hundred and thirty-three second-year IM residents completed the questionnaire. Residents rated their level of knowledge about Medicare as a 2.0 (SD = 0.9) on a Likert scale (1 = “very low,” 5 = “very high”). Residents agreed that Medicare reimbursement should be taught in residency with a score of 4.0 (SD = 1.1; 1 = “strongly disagree,” 5 = “strongly agree” SD = 1.1). On the knowledge assessment portion of the questionnaire, residents scored significantly lower than a group of general IM physicians who completed the same questions (percent correct = 41.8% vs 59.0%, P<.001). Residents' scores correlated with their self-assessed level of knowledge (P = .007).
Our study demonstrates that second year IM residents feel they have a low level of knowledge regarding outpatient Medicare billing, and have a lower test score than practicing Internists to back up their feelings. The residents also strongly agree that they do not receive enough education about Medicare reimbursement, and believe it should be a requirement in residency training.
internship and residency; curriculum; medicare; needs assessment
Congress has demonstrated interest in toxic compensation legislation, but not enough agreement to make significant progress. Advocates of reform claim that the legal system is heavily weighed against victims who seek compensation through the courts. Proposed reforms include a compensation fund and a cause of action in federal court. Critics have questioned whether these changes in the law would represent an improvement. Existing income replacement, medical cost reimbursement, and survivor insurance programs largely cover the losses of individuals with chronic disease. Thus, the need for an additional compensation is not clear. Furthermore, experience with compensation funds such as the Black Lung Fund suggests that political rather than scientific criteria may be used to determine eligibility. Finally, under the proposed financing mechanisms the compensation funds that are being debated would not increase incentives for care in the handling of hazardous wastes or toxic substances.
The absence of ongoing surveillance for childhood asthma in Montreal, Quebec, prompted the present investigation to assess the validity and practicality of administrative databases as a foundation for surveillance.
To explore the consistency between cases of asthma identified through physician billings compared with hospital discharge summaries.
Rates of service use for asthma in 1998 among Montreal children aged one, four and eight years were estimated. Correspondence between the two databases (physician billing claims versus medical billing claims) were explored during three different time periods: the first day of hospitalization, during the entire hospital stay, and during the hospital stay plus a one-day margin before admission and after discharge (‘hospital stay ± 1 day’).
During 1998, 7.6% of Montreal children consulted a physician for asthma at least once and 0.6% were hospitalized with a principal diagnosis of asthma. There were no contemporaneous physician billings for asthma ‘in hospital’ during hospital stay ± 1 day for 22% of hospitalizations in which asthma was the primary diagnosis recorded at discharge. Conversely, among children with a physician billing for asthma ‘in hospital’, 66% were found to have a contemporaneous in-hospital record of a stay for ‘asthma’.
Both databases of hospital and medical billing claims are useful for estimating rates of hospitalization for asthma in children. The potential for diagnostic imprecision is of concern, especially if capturing the exact number of uses is more important than establishing patterns of use.
Administrative data; Childhood asthma; Hospital admissions; Medical visits; Surveillance
There is conflicting evidence as to whether physicians who are certified in family medicine practise differently from their noncertified colleagues and what those differences are. We examined the extent to which certification in family medicine is associated with differences in the practice patterns of primary care physicians as reflected in their billing patterns. Billing data for 1986 were obtained from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for 269 certified physicians and 375 noncertified physicians who had graduated from Ontario medical schools between 1972 and 1983 and who practised as general practitioners or family physicians in Ontario. As a group, certificants provided fewer services per patient and billed less per patient seen per month. They were more likely than noncertificants to include counselling, psychotherapy, prenatal and obstetric care, nonemergency hospital visits, surgical services and visits to chronic care facilities in their service mix and to bill in more service categories. Certificants billed more for prenatal and obstetric care, intermediate assessments, chronic care and nonemergency hospital visits and less for psychotherapy and after-hours services than noncertificants. Many of the differences detected suggest a practice style consistent with the objectives for training and certification in family medicine. However, whether the differences observed in our study and in previous studies are related more to self-selection of physicians for certification or to the types of educational experiences cannot be directly assessed.
One group often identified as having low socioeconomic status, those living in remote or rural areas, are often recognised as bearing an unequal burden of illness in society. This paper aims to examine equity of utilisation of general practitioner services in Australia.
Using the 2005 National Health Survey undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a microsimulation model was developed to determine the distribution of GP services that would occur if all Australians had equal utilisation of health services relative to need.
It was estimated that those who are unemployed would experience a 19% increase in GP services. Persons residing in regional areas would receive about 5.7 million additional GP visits per year if they had the same access to care as Australians residing in major cities. This would be a 18% increase. There would be a 20% increase for inner regional residents and a 14% increase for residents of more remote regional areas. Overall there would be a 5% increase in GP visits nationally if those in regional areas had the same access to care as those in major cities.
Parity is an insufficient goal and disadvantaged persons and underserved areas require greater access to health services than the well served metropolitan areas due to their greater poverty and poorer health status. Currently underserved Australians suffer a double disadvantage: poorer health and poorer access to health services.
Patient bill of rights (PBR) calls for equal rights to access health services for all patients. It makes a foundation for preserving good relationships between patients, doctors and other healthcare staffs. Third Edition of national PBR was published in Iran in 2009. On the other hand, developing national wide Electronic Health Records (EHR) is now one of the strategic goals of Iran Ministry of Health and Medical Education. EHR as a basic repository for all related information provides access to the necessary data to organize, store and manage them. It also makes an additional support to the legal aspects of healthcare services, increases staff information about patient rights, and raises them to respect these rights. This article reviews how EHR standards can help to institutionalize the PBR.
To do that, we have collected some important topics of PBR in Iran. Then we used some valid references on Electronic health record standards like ASTM, ISO, HL7 and CEN to review existing standards. The Main issues regarding patient rights derived from these standards were: privacy, confidentiality, and secrecy, access levels to patient information, medical care in emergency situations, patient autonomy and authentication (electronic signature). In each topic, the most relevant standard phrases are marked.
Developing EHR creates an opportunity to establish patient rights in its structure. To internalize them, there are some reliable EHR standards like ASTM and ISO 13606-1 that implementing them could be very fruitful.
EHR; standard; patient bill of rights; Hospital
In 2010, Senate Bill 1309 included language to repeal an existing Arizona law that enables minors younger than 18 years of age to seek diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) without parental consent. Numerous implications were identified that would have stemmed from parental consent provisions originally proffered in Senate Bill 1309. These implications included diminished access to essential health services among minors, exacerbated existing health disparities, increased health-care spending costs, and thwarted efforts to curb the spread of STDs. Lastly, minors would have been deprived of existing privacy protections concerning their STD-related medical information. This case study describes how collaborative advocacy efforts resulted in the successful amendment of Senate Bill 1309 to avert the negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes among adolescents stemming from the potential repeal of their existing legal right to seek STD treatment without parental consent.
Current rates of wildlife habitat loss have placed increasing demands on managers to develop, validate and implement tools aimed at improving our ability to evaluate such impacts on wildlife. Here, we present a case study conducted at the Natural Area of Doñana (SW Spain) where remote sensing and stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N) analyses of individuals were combined to unravel (1) the effect of variations in availability of natural food resources (i.e. from natural marshes) on reproductive performance of a Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei) population, and (2) the role of two adjacent, artificial systems (a fish farm and saltmines) as alternate anthropogenic feeding areas. Based on long-term (1983–2004) remote-sensing, we inferred the average extent of flooded area at the marshland (a proxy to natural resource availability) annually. Estimated flooded areas (ranging from extreme drought [ca. 151 ha, 1995] to high moisture [15,049 ha, 2004]) were positively related to reproductive success of gulls (estimated for the 1993–2004 period, and ranging from ca. 0 to 1.7 fledglings per breeding pairs), suggesting that habitat availability played a role in determining their reproductive performance. Based on blood δ13C and δ15N values of fledglings, 2001–2004, and a Bayesian isotopic mixing model, we conclude that saltmines acted as the main alternative foraging habitat for gulls, with relative contributions increasing as the extent of marshland decreased. Although adjacent, anthropogenic systems have been established as the preferred breeding sites for this gull population, dietary switches towards exploitation of alternative (anthropogenic) food resources negatively affected the reproductive output of this species, thus challenging the perception that these man-made systems are necessarily a reliable buffer against loss of natural feeding habitats. The methodology and results derived from this study could be extended to a large suite of threatened natural communities worldwide, thus providing a useful framework for management and conservation.
The American Lung Association of Minnesota (ALAMN) was granted access to a 2004 administrative claims data from an upper mid-Western, independent practice association model health plan. Claims information, including demographics, prevalence, medication and oxygen therapy, and health care utilization, was extracted for 7,782 patients with COPD who were 40 years of age and older. In addition, ALAMN conducted a survey of 1,911 patients from Minnesota diagnosed with COPD. The survey queried the patients about demographics, treatment, medications, limitations, wants, and needs. This article compares and contrasts the information gained through the health plan administrative claims database with the findings from the COPD patient survey in areas of age, gender, types of provider primarily responsible for COPD care, spirometry use, medication therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and health care utilization. Primary care practitioners provided a majority of the COPD-related care. The claims evidence of spirometry use was 16%–62% of COPD patients had claims evidence of COPD-related medications. 25% of patients reported, and 23% of patients had claims evidence of, a hospitalization during the observation year. 16% of patients reported using pulmonary rehabilitation programs. The results indicate there is an opportunity to improve COPD diagnosis and management.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; oxygen therapy; medication therapy; spirometry; chronic care; assessment
We study the effects of 'balance billing', i.e., allowing physicians to charge a fee from patients in addition to the fee paid by Medicare. First, we show that on pure efficiency grounds the optimal Medicare fee under balance billing is zero. An active Medicare policy thus can only be justified when distributional concerns are accounted for. Extending the analysis by Glazer and McGuire, we therefore analyze the optimal policy from the patients' point of view. We demonstrate that, from the patients' perspective, a positive fee can be superior under balance billing. Furthermore, patient welfare can be lower if balance billing is prohibited. In particular, this is the case if the administrative costs of Medicare are large. However, we cannot rule out that prohibiting balance billing may be superior. Finally, we show that payer fee discrimination increases patient welfare if Medicare's administrative costs are high or if Medicare's optimal fee under balance billing implies lower quality for fee-only patients.
JEL-classification: I11, I18, H51
physician reimbursement; price controls; Medicare
PET use for cancer care has increased unevenly, possibly because of regional health care market characteristics or underlying population characteristics. The aim of this study was to examine variation in advanced imaging use among individuals with cancer in relation to population and hospital service area (HSA) characteristics.
A retrospective national study of fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with diagnoses of 1 of 5 cancers covered by Medicare for PET (2004-2008) was conducted. Crude and adjusted rates of PET, CT, and MRI were estimated for HSAs and sociodemographic subgroups. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess the effects of race/ethnicity, area-level income, and HSA-level physician supply and spending on imaging utilization.
On the basis of an annual average of 116,452 beneficiaries with cancer, adjusted PET rates (imaging days per person-year) showed significantly higher use for whites compared with blacks in both 2004 (whites, 0.35 [95% confidence interval, 0.34-0.36]; blacks, 0.31 [95% confidence interval, 0.30-0.33]) and 2008 (whites, 0.64 [95% confidence interval, 0.63-0.65]; blacks, 0.57 [95% confidence interval, 0.55-0.59]). This trend was similar for the highest quartile of group-level median household income but was opposite for CT use, with blacks having higher rates than whites. The highest Medicare-spending HSAs had significantly higher adjusted PET rates compared with lower spending areas (0.57 [95% confidence interval, 0.55-0.60] vs 0.69 [95% confidence interval, 0.67-0.71] imaging days/person-year).
The use of PET among Medicare beneficiaries with cancer increased from 2004 to 2008, with higher rates observed among whites, among higher socioeconomic groups, and in higher Medicare spending areas. Sociodemographic differences in advanced imaging use are modality specific.
PET; cancer; imaging; variation; Medicare; race
To assess the relative impact of clinical factors versus nonclinical factors—such as postacute care (PAC) supply—in determining whether patients receive care from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) or inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) after discharge from acute care.
Data Sources and Study Setting
Medicare acute hospital, IRF, and SNF claims provided data on PAC choices; predictors of site of PAC chosen were generated from Medicare claims, provider of services, enrollment file, and Area Resource File data.
We used multinomial logit models to predict PAC use by elderly patients after hospitalizations for stroke, hip fractures, or lower extremity joint replacements.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods
A file was constructed linking acute and postacute utilization data for all medicare patients hospitalized in 1999.
PAC availability is a more powerful predictor of PAC use than the clinical characteristics in many of our models. The effects of distance to providers and supply of providers are particularly clear in the choice between IRF and SNF care. The farther away the nearest IRF is, and the closer the nearest SNF is, the less likely a patient is to go to an IRF. Similarly, the fewer IRFs, and the more SNFs, there are in the patient's area the less likely the patient is to go to an IRF. In addition, if the hospital from which the patient is discharged has a related IRF or a related SNF the patient is more likely to go there.
We find that the availability of PAC is a major determinant of whether patients use such care and which type of PAC facility they use. Further research is needed in order to evaluate whether these findings indicate that a greater supply of PAC leads to both higher use of institutional care and better outcomes—or whether it leads to unwarranted expenditures of resources and delays in returning patients to their homes.
postacute care; provider supply; Medicare; rehabilatation; nursing homes
To use the natural experiment created by the Medicare interim payment system (IPS) to study supply change behavior of home health agencies (HHAs) in local market areas.
One hundred percent Medicare home health claims for 1996 and 1999, linked with Medicare Provider of Service and Denominator files, and the Area Resource File.
Medicare home health care (HHC) claims data were used to distinguish HHAs that changed the local market supply of Medicare HHC by their market exit or by significant expansion or contraction of their geographic service area between 1996 and 1999 from other HHAs. Multinomial logit models were estimated to analyze how characteristics of agencies and the market areas in which they served were associated with these different agency-level supply changes.
Changes in local HHA supply stemming from geographic service area expansions and contractions rivaled those owing to agency closures and market entries. Agencies at greater risk of closure and service area contraction tended to be smaller, newer, freestanding agencies, operating with more visit-intensive practice styles in markets with more competitor agencies. Except for having much less visit-intensive practice styles, similar attributes characterized agencies that increased local supply through service area expansion.
Supply changes by HHAs largely reflected rational market responses by agencies to significant changes in financial incentives associated with the Medicare IPS. Recently certified agencies were among the most dynamic providers. Supply changes were more likely among agencies operating in more competitive market environments.
Home health care; Medicare; geographic service area; supply behavior
In the period 1985-89, there was a severe drop in obstetrical services in rural areas of North Carolina, partly because of rising malpractice insurance rates. The State government responded with the Rural Obstetrical Care Incentive (ROCI) Program that provides a malpractice insurance subsidy of up to $6,500 per participating physician per year. Enacted into law in 1988, the ROCI Program was expanded in 1991, making certified nurse midwives eligible to receive subsidies of up to $3,000 per year. To participate, practitioners must provide obstetrical care to all women, regardless of their ability to pay for services. Total funding for the program has increased from $240,000 to $840,000, in spite of extreme budgetary constraints faced by the State. The program and how its implementation has maintained or increased access to obstetrical care in participating counties are described on the basis of site visits to local health departments in participating counties and data from the North Carolina Division of Maternal and Child Health. The program is of significance to policy makers nationwide as both a response to rising malpractice insurance rates and reduced access to obstetrical care in rural areas, and as an innovative, nontraditional State program in which the locus of decision making is at the county level.
It has been shown that to provide a high standard of care general practitioners probably need to book consultations at intervals of at least 10 minutes. In this study the maximum list size for which a general practitioner might be expected to provide a high standard of care was determined from calculations of the time spent consulting, based on various consultation rates and list sizes and assuming that consultations were 10 minutes long. If good quality care is to be provided and is to include the range of services suggested in the government's recent green paper average list sizes should probably be no more than 1750, and lower in areas of high demand and high need. In addition to this, minimum standards could be determined for such measures as facilities available in surgeries, practice records, and accessibility of doctors to ensure that basic services were offered by all general practitioners.
Purpose: The Clinical Charge Capture system (C3) was developed at the University of Michigan to increase the efficiency and accuracy with which information about physician activity and billing is tracked in academic medical centers. Description: This Oracle-based, Visual Basic system integrates the operating room scheduling system, transcription database, clinical data repository, referring physician database, and IDX to allow physicians and staff to perform paperless and on-line standard tasks such as preauthorizing procedures; creating a bill which describes the charges for procedures performed along with their supporting diagnoses; identifying inpatient daily care and consult charges; dictating, editing, signing, and providing attestations for procedural and inpatient notes (menu-driven boilerplate notes are used for common procedures); submitting of charges on-line to IDX; and downloading of payment data from IDX. A messaging system between physicians and billing specialists allows questions to be posed regarding coding issues and options. Summary information about charges is presented and the status of the bill as it progresses through the internal review and billing process is demonstrated. Any missing data are flagged such that delivery of a bill is accurate, timely, and complete. Outpatient clinic visit charges are acquired on line using bar code technology with direct download of clinic charges to IDX. Generation of charges and referral letters may be performed immediately following the performance of a procedure or patient encounter or subsequently in the office. Resident activity is also tracked. Finally, search functions are provided which allow the program to serve as a clinical information research database. Results: The time to bill submission for operative procedures in fiscal year 1996 (Pre-C3) when compared to 1999 (Post-C3) decreased in each individual surgical division (See figure)as well as for the overall Department (Total: mean Pre-C3=40 days, mean Post-C3=8 days). The average bill was increased by 9% for each primary charge submitted. Conclusions: We conclude that this system has the potential to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and organization of routine physician documentation, billing, and data collection activities.
In this article we develop and estimate a model of physicians' pricing that explicitly incorporates the effects of Medicare and Medicaid demand subsidies. Our analysis is based on a multiperiod model in which physicians are monopolistic competitors supplying services to several markets. The implications of the model are tested using data derived from claims submitted by a cohort of 1,200 California physicians during the years 1972-1975. We conclude that the demand for physician's services is relatively elastic; that increases in the local supply of physicians reduce prices somewhat; that physicians respond strategically to attempts to control prices through the customary-prevailing-reasonable system; and that price controls limit the rate of increase in physicians' prices. The analysis identifies a family of policies that recognize the monopsony power of public programs and may change the cost-access trade-off.
The Royal College of General Practitioners is, of course, fully aware that the regulation of the conditions for abortion is inevitably difficult and complex and that opinions are often difficult to reconcile.
Nevertheless, the College has been able to establish the grave concern of many of its members at the proposals outlined in this Bill. The College has not received one single letter in support of the Abortion (Amendment) Bill.
The College notes that the Lane Committee (1974) carried out a very full and detailed review of the working of the Abortion Act and published its view only last year. The College notes that the Lane Committee took evidence from those with every shade of opinion, examined in detail virtually every published scientific report on abortion in this country, and, furthermore, commissioned and published specific evidence about the working of the 1967 Abortion Act.
The College notes that the Lane Committee contained members, in addition to general practitioners, who were lawyers, administrative medical officers, psychiatrists, gynaecologists, social workers, and women representing the public, and that its work took about three years to carry out.
The Royal College of General Practitioners endorses the work of the Lane Committee and therefore recommends that the recommendations of that Committee should be implemented instead of the proposals in the Abortion (Amendment) Bill.
Medically related decision-making in workers' compensation, especially in areas of patient eligibility for benefits and determination of exact medical and compensation benefits, differs significantly from similar decisions in clinical practice and acute care payment. A government-sponsored program has been developing guidelines and decision algorithms to aid in decision-making in these areas, focusing on occupational diseases. These decision algorithms are now being automated to support national implementation of the guidelines by Federal agencies and to encourage their adoption by the private sector.
There is little known about women’s concurrent use of conventional and complementary health care during pregnancy, particularly consultation patterns with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This study examines health service utilisation among pregnant women including consultations with obstetricians, midwives, general practitioners (GPs) and CAM practitioners.
A sub-study of pregnant women (n=2445) was undertaken from the nationally-representative Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). Women’s consultations with conventional practitioners (obstetricians, GPs and midwives) and CAM practitioners for pregnancy-related health conditions were analysed. The analysis included Pearson chi-square tests to compare categorical variables.
The survey was completed by 1835 women (response rate = 79.2%). A substantial number (49.4%) of respondents consulted with a CAM practitioner for pregnancy-related health conditions. Many participants consulted only with a CAM practitioner for assistance with certain conditions such as neck pain (74.6%) and sciatica (40.4%). Meanwhile, women consulted both CAM practitioners and conventional maternity health professionals (obstetricians, midwives and GPs) for back pain (61.8%) and gestational diabetes (22.2%). Women visiting a general practitioner (GP) 3–4 times for pregnancy care were more likely to consult with acupuncturists compared with those consulting a GP less often (p=<0.001, x2=20.5). Women who had more frequent visits to a midwife were more likely to have consulted with an acupuncturist (p=<0.001, x2=18.9) or a doula (p=<0.001, x2=23.2) than those visiting midwives less frequently for their pregnancy care.
The results emphasise the necessity for a considered and collaborative approach to interactions between pregnant women, conventional maternity health providers and CAM practitioners to accommodate appropriate information transferral and co-ordinated maternity care. The absence of sufficient clinical evidence regarding many commonly used CAM practices during pregnancy also requires urgent attention.
Pregnancy; Complementary medicine; Health services; Interprofessional; Integrative medicine
Chiropractic and osteopathy form a significant part of the healthcare setting in rural and regional Australia, with national registration of practitioners, public subsidies for services and high utilisation by the Australian public. However, despite their significant role in rural and regional Australia, there has been little exploration of the interface between chiropractic and osteopathy and conventional primary health care practitioners in this area. The study aim was to examine the referral practices and factors that underlie referral to chiropractors and osteopaths by rural and regional Australian general practitioners (GPs), by drawing on a sample of GPs in rural and regional New South Wales.
A 27-item questionnaire was sent to all 1486 GPs currently practising in rural and regional Divisions of General Practice in New South Wales, Australia.
A total of 585 GPs responded to the questionnaire, with 49 questionnaires returned as “no longer at this address” (response rate: 40.7%). The majority of GPs (64.1%) referred to a chiropractor or osteopath at least a few times per year while 21.7% stated that they would not refer to a chiropractor or osteopath under any circumstances. Patients asking the GP about CAM (OR=3.59; CI: 1.12, 11.55), GP’s use of CAM practitioners as a major source of information (OR=4.39; 95% CI: 2.04, 9.41), lack of other treatment options (OR=2.41; 95% CI: 1.18, 5.12), access to a wide variety of medical specialists (OR=12.5; 95% CI: 2.4, 50.0), GP’s belief in the efficacy of chiropractic and osteopathy services (OR=3.39; 95% CI: 2.19, 5.25) and experiencing positive results from patients using these services previously (OR=1.67; CI: 1.02, 2.75) were all independently predictive of increased referral to chiropractic and osteopathy services amongst the rural GPs.
There is a significant interface between chiropractic and osteopathy and Australian rural and regional general practice in New South Wales. Although there is generally high support for chiropractic and osteopathy among Australian GPs, this was not absolute and the heterogeneity of responses suggests that there remain tensions between the professions. The significant interface between chiropractic and osteopathy may be due in part to the inclusion of these professions in the publicly subsidised national healthcare delivery scheme. The significant impact of chiropractic and osteopathy and general practice in rural and regional Australian healthcare delivery should serve as an impetus for increased research into chiropractic and osteopathy practice, policy and regulation in these areas.
Chiropractic; Osteopathy; General practice; Rural healthcare; Health services; Referral; Interdisciplinary care; Primary care