A study was undertaken amongst private primary care providers in three urban centres of Malaysia to understand the organizational structure of the facilities and to assess the cost of running such services. A total of 150 clinics were involved in the study. Data was collected through interviews with owners of the clinics using semi-structured questionnaires. Solo-practitioners owned 64.7% of the clinics while 35.3% of them were owned by group practice. This study showed that the mean number of patients visited the clinics daily was 49.3 with the average operating hours of 79.4 hours/week (range 28.0 - 168.0 hours/week). Group practice clinics operates 23.9 hours longer than solo-practice clinics. Group practice clinics were more likely to offer 24 hours service than solo-practice clinics. Most of the clinics were manned by a single doctor (57.3%), 30.0 % had two doctors and only 12.7% were run by more than two doctors. On average, group practice employed greater number of supporting staff than solo-practice clinics (6.0 vs 4.3 people). The mean annual cost to run each facility was found to be RM 444,698. The mean cost per patient was found to be RM 32.09 for solo-practice clinics and RM 38.55 for group practice. Wages represented the highest proportion in the recurrent cost (61.1%) followed by drugs (29.2%) and consumables (2.7%). Building cost (67.9%) and equipment cost (25.9%) were the major capital costs for the clinics. This study could serve as a basis to reimburse private primary care providers in the future health financing scheme in Malaysia. To improve efficiency and contain cost in primary care settings, efforts should be targeted towards cost of wages and drugs utilised by the providers in their daily practice.
Key words: Private practice; primary care; costs; Malaysia.
Aims. To document the antibiotic prescribing rate for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in general practice and its associated factors. Methods. Data extracted from a morbidity survey of 150 general practice clinics in three urban areas in Malaysia. Participating general practitioners recorded demographic, morbidity and process of care data for 30 consecutive adult patients using a structured form. [year of study=1999] Results. URTI contributed 940 (27.0%) of the total of 3481 encounters recorded. Antibiotic was prescribed in 68.4% of encounters with URTI; a significant proportion of the antibiotic choice was inappropriate. Half the antibiotics prescribed in this study were due to URTI. [overall antibiotic prescribing rate for all encounters=33.4%] Conclusions. General practitioners need to re-examine their own prescribing for URTI and decide whether it is consistent with current guidelines. Rational prescribing is not just part of the professional role of doctors, but will go a long way to impede the emergence of antibiotic resistance.
BACKGROUND: The majority of primary care consultations in Malaysia occur in the general practice clinics. To date, there is no comprehensive documentation of the morbidity and practice activities in this setting.
OBJECTIVES: We reported the reasons for encounter, diagnoses and process of care in urban general practice and the influence of payment system on the morbidity and practice activities.
METHODS: 115 clinics in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang participated in this study. General practitioners in these clinics completed a 2-page questionnaire for each of the 30 consecutive patients. The questionnaire requested for the following information: demographic data, reasons for encounter, important physical findings, diagnoses, investigations ordered, outpatient procedures performed, medical certificate given, medication prescribed and referral made. The morbidity (reasons for encounter and diagnoses) was coded using ICPC-2 and the medication data was coded using MIMS Classification Index.
RESULTS: During 3481 encounters, 5300 RFEs (152 RFEs per 100 encounters) and 3342 diagnoses (96 diagnoses per 100 encounters) were recorded. The majority of the RFEs and diagnoses are in the following ICPC Chapters: Respiratory, General and unspecified, Digestive, Neurological, Musculoskeletal and Skin. The frequencies of selected aspects of the process of care (rate per 100 encounters) were: laboratory investigations 14.7, outpatient procedures 2.4, sick certification 26.9, referral 2.4, and medication prescription 244. Consultation for chronic diseases and acute infections were influenced more by demographic variables (age, employment) rather than payment system. Cash-paying patients were more likely to receive laboratory investigations and injections.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated the breadth of clinical care in the general practice. Relatively fewer patients consulted specifically for preventive care and treatment of chronic diseases. The frequencies of outpatient procedures and referrals appeared to be low. Payment system results in important differences in patient mix and influences some types of practice activities.