Background: Over the last 10 years, care outside office hours by primary care physicians in The Netherlands has experienced a radical change. While Dutch general practitioners (GPs) formerly performed these services in small-call rotations, care is nowadays delivered by large-scale GP cooperatives.
Methods: We searched the literature for relevant studies on the effect of the out-of-hours care reorganization in The Netherlands. We identified research that included before- and afterintervention studies, descriptive studies, and surveys. These studies focused on the consequences of reorganizing several aspects of out-of-hours care, such as patient and GP satisfaction, patient characteristics, utilization of care, and costs.
Results: Various studies showed that the reorganization has successfully addressed many of the critical issues that Dutch GPs were confronted with delivering these services. GPs' job satisfaction has increased, and patients seem to be satisfied with current out-of-hours care.
Discussion: Several aspects of out-of-hours care are discussed, such as telephone triage, self referrals, and future expectations, which should receive extra attention by researchers and health policy makers in the near future.