menu ☰
menu ˟

Occupational medicine specialist referral triggers: Mixed-methods analysis of teleconsult cases

16 Nov 2017

AbstractBackgroundQualitative analyses can yield critical lessons for learning organizations in healthcare. Few studies have applied these techniques in the field of occupational and environmental medicine (OEM).AimsTo describe the characteristics of complex cases referred for OEM subspecialty evaluation and variation by referring provider’s training.MethodsUsing a mixed methods approach, we conducted a content analysis of clinical cases submitted to a national OEM teleconsult service. Consecutive cases entered between April 2014 and July 2015 were screened, coded and analysed.Results108 cases were available for analysis. Local Veterans Health Administration (VHA) non-specialist providers entered a primary medical diagnosis in 96% of cases at the time of intake. OEM speciality physicians coded significant medical conditions based on free text comments. Coder inter-rater reliability was 84%. The most frequent medical diagnosis types associated with tertiary OEM referral by non-specialists were endocrine (19%), cardiovascular (18%) and mental health (16%). Concern for usage of controlled and/or sedating medications was cited in 1% of cases. Compared to referring non-specialists, OEM physicians were more likely to attribute case complexity to musculoskeletal (OR: 2.3, 1.68–3.14) or neurological (OR: 1.69, 1.28–2.24) conditions. Medication usage (OR: 2.2, 1.49–2.26) was more likely to be a source of clinical concern among referring providers.ConclusionsThe findings highlight the range of triggers for OEM physician subspecialty referral in clinical practice with employee patients. The results of this study can be used to inform development of provider education, standardized clinical practice pathways, and quality review activities for occupational medicine practitioners.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Occupational Medicine