Understanding the Referral Mechanism between General Practitioners and Specialists in Private Healthcare using Network Science

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


The following document represents a master thesis dissertation, that consists in the development of a research project in which its main objective is to understand the referral mechanism between primary care physicians and specialists using network science and other tools. The referral network of a healthcare provider denotes an important source of costs and revenue, as it can affect directly the management of its clients and employees, namely through the quality of the care being provided and the level of satisfaction being achieved. The data provided for the development of the study was given by a European industry leader in private healthcare. It is important to highlight that this research study attempts maps the relationships between general practitioners and specialists using a large dataset of doctor’s appointments during 2012 and 2017. These relationships were mapped under the assumptions that two doctors had to share at least one patient, and the period between the two appointments could not be longer than 30 days. Moreover, the impact of the dynamics of the relationships between the two types of doctors in the primary-specialty referral mechanism is done by analyzing the referral patterns exhibited in network, and the performance of the physicians in terms of the centrality measures degree, betweenness and closeness. Additionally, two regression analysis are performed with the objective of identifying potential characteristics that might be affecting the referral rates of doctors. These characteristics include the social network metrics and the physician’s backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Science
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
  • Neto, Miguel de Castro, Supervisor
Award date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Social Network Analysis
  • Referral Mechanism
  • Informal Networks
  • Private Healthcare
  • Primary Care
  • Differentiated Care

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