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The content of adult primary care episodes.
  • Published Date:
    1982 Jan-Feb
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 97(1):48-57
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.51 MB]

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  • Description:
    In a research project undertaken to describe the content of adult primary care, episodes of illness for six common primary care conditions were analyzed: URI (upper respiratory infection, UTI (urinary tract infection), HYP (hypertension), AP (abdominal pain), CP (chest pain), and PE (physical examination). Data from the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Care Program-Oregon Region were used in the project. Episode of the six conditions studied tended to be of brief duration; at least half of the episodes of each condition except hypertension involved only a single medical visit. The physical examination episodes typically involved both laboratory and radiology services, but these services were less frequently used for the other five conditions. Few episodes involved a referral to a consultant physician, the use of sophisticated ancillary procedures, repeat tests, or a hospitalization. If patients had been billed for the episode-related care involved in treating each episode, the average charge incurred (in 1980 dollars) would have bee: URI $38.67, UTI and HY $52.27 each, AP $66.59, CP $46.54, and PE $91.65, excluding the costs of pharmaceuticals. Ancillary services accounted for one-third or more of the costs for each type of episode except URI. The results suggest that cost savings in primary care are likely to depend less on the control of sophisticated medical technology than on efficiently meeting patient-initiated demands for care and on influencing physician-generated ordering of simple ancillary procedures. The results also suggest the utility of analyzing the distinctive demands on the medical care system that are generated by diverse primary care conditions.

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