Choice of primary care provider: a review of experiences in three countries

Document type
Miani, Celine; Pitchforth, Emma; Nolte, Ellen
Policy Innovation Research Unit
Date of publication
1 September 2013
Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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It is foreseen that England will see the implementation of free choice of GP practice following a 12 month pilot scheme during 2012 and 2013. Therefore this report aimed to understand the choice of primary care provider as a policy issue in European countries that recently introduced such a choice, namely: Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Literature reviews and country case studies (including document reviews and key informant interviews) were undertaken, however documented evidence of the impact of reforming the choice of primary care was found to be scant. The report concludes that policies seeking to enhance the choice of primary care provider may be more straightforward where transfers are limited in number and value, where it is easy to let money follow the patient, and where the existing IT infrastructure allows for easy transfer of medical records. The report also highlights that an important matter to consider if the scheme is implemented beyond the more populous pilot scheme areas are remote settings, due to a lack of sufficient market.