Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Differences in patient throughput between community health centre and private general practitioners

Michael Montalto, David Dunt and Jeff Richardson

Australian Health Review 19(3) 56 - 65
Published: 1996


This study sought to compare the rate of patient throughput by community healthcentre general practitioners (GPs) and their private practice fee-for-servicecounterparts.The study group comprised 44 community health centre GPs (out of an identified51) in 16 community health centres; the control group comprised 268 GPs.Community health centre GPs were found to have significantly fewer consultationsand significantly smaller rebates than their private practice counterparts. Thedifference of means for consultation numbers and rebates was 30.3- per cent. Thepattern was reversed in the case of rural community health centre GPs (who retainfee-for-service arrangements).Figures are uncorrected for patient status, and data relate to Medicare billing practicesrather than observed activity or outcome. However, at face value they would indicatethat if Australian general practice moved to a community health centre model, withpredominantly salaried GPs, then patient throughput in general practice could beexpected to drop. Whether these results reflect the impact of incentives on throughputand, if so, whether this indicates a difference in the quality or accessibility of theservice provided to patients is not certain.

© AHHA 1996

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