Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Using shared patients to define networks of doctors.

Open Medicine article from Ottawa where they examined administrative data of doctors to see how they were "interconnected". An interconnection was defined as "if these 2 physicians provided at least 1% of their clinic visits over a 2-year period to the same patients".

"Physicians had, on average, 2.2 interconnected physician partners (median = 1; 25th and 75th percentile: 0, 3). Physicians saw mainly their own listed patients, and 7.9% (median = 5.9%; 25th and 75th percentile: 2.4%, 11.6%) of their visits were provided to patients of their interconnected partners. The number of interconnected physicians was higher in group practices that had more physicians, but levelled to 2.5 interconnected physicians in practices with 8 or 9 physicians."

This was very much a 'proof-of-concept' study but the authors go on to suggest two possible uses of such techniques; the examination of collaborative healthcare centred on individual patients using social network techniques, and the examination of health care delivery from a network perspective.

1. Manuel DG, Lam K, Maaten S, Klein-Geltink J. Using administrative data to measure the extent to which practitioners work together: “interconnected” care is common in a large cohort of family physicians. Open Medicine 2011 Oct;5(4):177-182. Available from: http://www.openmedicine.ca/article/viewArticle/448

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