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Behaviour in therapeutic medical care: evidence from general practitioners in Austria

[journal article]

Müller, Michael; Meyer, Harald; Stummer, Harald

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Abstract Aim: The present study examines monetary effects of general practioners’ behaviour in therapeutic medical care to identify sample characteristics that allow differentiating between the individual general practitioner and the basic population. Subjects and methods: Medical services, provided by 3,919 general practitioners in Austria, were operationalized by means of the dependent variable “costs per patient”. Statistical outliers were identified using Chebyshev’s inequality and categorized by investigating bivariate correlations between the dependent variable and the personal characteristics of each physician. Results: Variables that relate to the size of the customer base such as number of consultations (r = 0.385) and office days (r = 0.376), correlate positively with the costs for medical services. By analyzing the portfolio of the general practitioners, we found a correlation of 0.451 between this coefficient and the costs. Statistical outliers feature an average portfolio of 44.5 different services, compared to 30.45 among non-outliers. Laboratory services especially were identified as cost drivers (r = 0.408). Statistical outliers generate at least one laboratory parameter for 44.34% of their patients, opposed to 27.2% within the rest of the sample. Consequently outliers produce higher laboratory costs than their counterparts. Conclusion: We found some evidence that physicians have influence in the provision of their services. Considering entrepreneurial objectives, the extension of the portfolio can increase their profit. Our findings indicate supplier-induced demand for several groups of services. We assume that the effect is consolidated by the fee for service system and could be compensated by adequate reform.
Keywords family physician; medical care; general medicine; costs; Austria; Austria; outpatient care
Classification Medical Sociology; Medicine, Social Medicine
Free Keywords General practitioner; Supplier-induced demand; Therapeutic medical care
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 147-153
Journal Journal of Public Health, 19 (2010) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)