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CMAJ. 1985 Oct 15;133(8):759-61.

Relative costs of specialist services in a family practice population.


The frequency and cost of referrals to specialists in March 1984 for 8980 rostered patients attending a family practice clinic located in a teaching hospital were analysed. The patients made 1891 visits to specialists. In all age groups and for all specialties female patients were more likely to be seen. The total direct provider costs were higher for female patients than for male patients. However, costs per patient seen were higher for male patients, except for psychiatry and medicine. Visits to surgeons had the highest total cost, while visits to psychiatrists had the highest cost per patient seen. Of the direct provider costs 61% was for specialist services. The family physician, in the "gatekeeper" role, has an opportunity to control some of the costs of the health care system by ensuring that the best and most efficient use is made of the referral network.

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