Unmet need for referred services as measured by general practice

Resource type
Authors/contributors
Title
Unmet need for referred services as measured by general practice
Abstract
INTRODUCTION Unmet needs are a key indicator of the success of a health system. Clinicians and funders in Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand were concerned that unmet health need was hidden. AIM The aim of this survey was to estimate the proportion of patients attending general practice who were unable to access clinically indicated referred services. METHODS The survey used a novel method to estimate unserviced health needs. General practitioners (GPs, n = 54) asked their patients (n = 2135) during a consultation about any health needs requiring a referred service. If both agreed that a service was potentially beneficial and not available, this was documented on an e-referral system for review. The outcomes of actual referrals were also reviewed. RESULTS The patient group was broadly representative of the Canterbury population, but over-sampled female and middle-aged people and under-sampled Māori. Data adjusted to regional demographics showed that 3.6% of patients had a GP-confirmed unserviced health need. Elective orthopaedic surgery, general surgery and mental health were areas of greatest need. Unserviced health needs were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) associated with greater deprivation, middle-age, and receiving high health-use subsidies. DISCUSSION To our knowledge, this is the first survey of GP and patient agreement on unserviced referred health needs. Measuring unserviced health needs in this way is directly relevant to service planning because the gaps identified reflect clinically indicated services that patients want and need. The survey method is an improvement on declined referral rates as a measure of need. Key factors in the method were using a patient-initiated GP consultation and an e-referral system to collect data.
Publication
Journal of Primary Health Care
Volume
9
Issue
4
Pages
269-278
Date
Dec 2017
Journal Abbr
J Prim Health Care
Language
eng
DOI
10.1071/HC17044
ISSN
1172-6156
Library Catalog
PubMed
Extra
PMID: 29530138
Citation
McGeoch, G., Holland, K., Kerdemelidis, M., Elliot, N., Shand, B., Fink, C., Dixon, A., & Gullery, C. (2017). Unmet need for referred services as measured by general practice. Journal of Primary Health Care, 9(4), 269–278. https://doi.org/10.1071/HC17044
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