3 in 5 physicians report barriers to make cancer referrals

Physicians who reported difficulty in making referrals were also associated with lower career satisfaction, according to a survey published in Cancer.

Researchers surveyed a group of 1,562 primary care physicians and 2,144 specialists to determine what barriers physicians experienced in referring cancer patients to other specialized care.

Three in five physicians reported always, usually or sometimes encountering at least one barrier in making a referral for a cancer patient. The report included the following key findings on which barriers affected physicians most.

  • 42 percent of respondents reported restricted provider networks always, usually or sometimes created a barrier for referrals
  • 34 percent said preauthorization requirements were a common barrier
  • 34 percent said a patient’s inability to pay was a common barrier
  • 28 percent said excessive patient travel time was a common barrier
  • 13 percent said lack of surgical subspecialists was a common barrier

Physicians with more patients in managed care networks reported lower referral barriers, which contradicts the top two barriers, as they were developed in managed care networks, the discussion notes. “These physicians may practice in integrated settings with streamlined referral systems, in-network specialists and insured patients,” the authors wrote.

Hospital-based physicians or physicians in larger group practices also reported lower referral barriers than those in small or solo practices.


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