Evaluation of the World Countries Health Referral System Performance Based on World Health Organization Indicators Using Hybrid Multicriteria Decision-Making Model [Editor's Choice]



Primary healthcare will not be effective unless there is a proper referral system. In contrast, comparing the performance of healthcare systems provides an opportunity for policy makers to determine the status of the country’s healthcare system compared with their international counterparts. Therefore, we ranked the countries in terms of indicators affected by the referral system.


This study was conducted in 2020. In the first phase, which was to determine the indicators affected by a country’s referral system, data were collected by the Delphi method, and therefore, 13 indicators with a content validity ratio equal to or greater than 0.42 were selected. In the second phase, the data of 13 indicators selected in the first phase were extracted from the 2018 and 2019 World Health Organization reports. The weight of the indicators was calculated based on the Decision-Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory method–based Analytic Network Process (DANP) and Shannon’s entropy, and the VIekriterijumsko KOmpromisno Rangiranje (VIKOR) method was used to rank the countries. SPSS 24 and Excel 2013 software were used for data analysis.


Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden ranked first, second, and third, respectively. In all the 3 countries, there are no mandatory gatekeeping systems. Physicians, especially general practitioners, are the core of primary healthcare, and in all the 3 countries, there is a uniform and coherent health financing system that is either based on mandatory health insurance (Switzerland and Germany) or taxes (Sweden). India had the lowest ranking.


It seems that the study of the health system of the countries that have obtained higher rankings can indicate their efforts in establishing a gatekeeping system, family physician program, and appropriate financing system. Therefore, other countries can study successful countries and copy them as a model to improve their health system.


Najmeh Bordbar Payam Shojaei Ramin Ravangard Peivand Bastani Hassan Joulaei Zahra Kavosi

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