Doctors refer their patients to specialists by taking many things into consideration, including their referral relationship with doctors in specialist fields, their information sharing relationship with doctors in specialist fields and the specialist doctor's area of expertise, according to Science Daily and the New York Times. There are no rules about the way in which doctors should choose to refer their clients to specialists.
Doctors will also ask their patients for feedback on the specialists that they visit. When they see that a large majority of their patients are having good experiences with a particular doctor, then they are more likely to recommend that doctor. They also want to choose doctors that have extensive experience in their specialist field.
Doctors are increasingly more likely to send their patients to specialists, according to the New York Times. In 1999, doctors only sent their patients to specialists 4.8 percent of the time while that number jumped to 9.3 percent in 2009. The belief for this is that doctors are more willing to send patients to specialists because only specialists can use the more advanced and technical tests and treatments that are now available. These tests and treatments did not exist before or have not yet become mainstream, which means that a specialist has to perform them.