What does information about referrals reveal about the service network?

Olli Nylander, Tarja Suominen, Hannu Rintanen, Mikko Nenonen, Simo Pelanteri


Objective To identify the most important referring parties in the Finnish health care system.
Design A record linkage study based on nationwide administrative registers.
Setting The hospital discharge register during 1996 to 2000.
Subjects The total Finnish population and the population of four hospital districts.
Main outcome measures Discharges of individuals by the most important referring parties.
Results The five most important referring parties in order of magnitude are as follows: health centre, no referral, clinic/unit of the same hospital, hospital other than a health centre, and private health care. The five most important referring parties for those aged over 75 are the same mentioned above. There were regional differences in referral practices.
Conclusions Differences or changes in referral profiles as a function of time cannot be taken as a direct measure of the impact of possible interventions or as an indication of an actual difference between the areas compared. One should also always be aware about any related metaknowledge.


administrative registers; referrals; service network

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v11i1.551


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