Trends in Referrals from Croatian Family Practice in Relation to Specialists' Consultations: A Longitudinal Observational Study from 1995 to 2012
Drug prescribing and referrals to specialists' consultations, as the indicators of the quality of health care, were not so often monitored in Croatian family medicine. The aims of the study are to determine the trends of referrals from family doctors to specialists' consultations and the trends of specialists' consultations utilisation. The study is based on routinely collected data from the Croatian Health Service Yearbooks, 1995-2012. The results indicate that from 1995 to 2012 the visits to family doctors almost doubled, while the number of referrals increased by 60%. The referral rate only slightly increased, from 24% to 29% of the total number of visits. The number of specialists' consultations showed continuous growth and exceeded the number of referrals. The observed trends are not sufficient to explain referral patterns and utilisation of specialists' services; therefore, a far more complex research is required.