The Treatspace Referral Management Blog

Insight, ideas, and resources for high-performance referral management

Jeremy Guttman

Recent Posts

It's Ridiculous That Health Records Systems Don't Talk To Each Other

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 2/10/17 10:53 AM

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Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden both care a great deal about digital health technology systems. Even when they had less than two weeks left in the White House, physicians' ability to share patient health records digitally was top of mind — and on the same day, too!

According to Politico’s Morning eHealth newsletter, it was “the first time since the gods called this newsletter into existence [that] President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both talked on the same day about health IT”.

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Topics: Coordinated Care, Referral Network, Interoperability, HIT, Healthcare Data, Care Transitions

Faulty Referral Management Raises the Risk of Malpractice Claims and Tragic Effects

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 1/27/17 5:05 AM

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What you don’t know can hurt you.

When practices fail to manage a standard and consistent patient referral process across all locations, patients get sicker. And when PCPs and specialists aren’t on the same page about a patient referral, urgent health conditions worsen while important diagnoses get missed or delayed.

But a defective referral communication process isn’t just a big problem for patient care - it’s also a big problem for medical practices’ morale and bottom lines. Practices often get sued for medical negligence when a patient referral falls through the cracks.

Referrals play a role in an immense number of medical malpractice claims. Patient handoffs in medical settings contribute to 20% of diagnostic errors that lead to malpractice suits1.

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Topics: Referral Management, Closed-Loop Referrals, Malpractice

Why PCPs and Specialists are Focusing on Automated Referral Workflow in 2017

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 1/3/17 5:10 PM

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Relationships between PCPs and specialists are sacred. On average, a single PCP is connected to 68 specialists. However, lack of electronic connectivity makes it difficult to coordinate care and manage referrals—apart from hiring additional administrative staff.

Without patient referrals from PCP to specialist, it is estimated that only half as many patients would show up to their specialty care appointment1. Furthermore, “self-referral” patients who see specialists without recommendation from a PCP are associated with higher patient dissatisfaction and poorer continuity of care with the primary care doctor2. As PCPs refer more patients to specialists each year, coordinated care and automated referral workflow become an urgent issue for both independent and hospital-based practices.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Referral Network, Referral Adherence, Referral Workflow

Data Silos Are an Underappreciated Medical Tragedy

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 9/26/16 5:48 PM

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Healthcare reform is very real. Only primary care practices who prepare now will be ready for big changes in reimbursement and quality metrics. According to Dr. Danyal Ibrahim, the Chief Data Analytics officer at Saint Francis Care in Connecticut, identifying gaps and bringing data together is crucial to overcoming isolated silos in healthcare and to delivering the kind of outcomes that meet and exceed performance metrics.

Providers who don’t harness data for the new era of healthcare “have at least a vague, nagging feeling that they should probably start developing the data-driven competencies.” In a recent HealthITAnalytics article, Dr. Ibrahim described identifying and overcoming data silos as the biggest hurdle of creating a streamlined data analytics infrastructure. “[T]here are so many times when our data ends up siloed, and pieces of information end up going to all different places that cannot communicate with one another...So one big component goes to the finance department, and other to IT, and another to the quality improvement team.

Forbes magazine weighs in on poor data sharing as “a medical tragedy of underappreciated dimension. Valuable, even vital information often remains uncaptured, unanalyzed, and, especially, unshared.”

Overcoming health data silos is proven to lead to cost savings. A McKinsey Global report estimated that the efficient use of data in healthcare could create more than $300 billion in value every year and quintuple hospital profits.

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Topics: Referral Management, Healthcare Data, Referral Management Analytics

Don't Tumble Blindly as You Make Your Way Across the Continuum of Care

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 9/8/16 2:13 PM

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Value-based care models are said to represent “policymaking at 80,000 feet.”

Healthcare leaders who were once optimistic about value-based reimbursement models are becoming doubtful after seeing the performance of several programs. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are achieving modest gains and a meager 28% of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) participants have generated cost savings.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Referral Management, Population Health

Getting Hands-On With Handoffs

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 8/31/16 2:45 PM

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Image courtesy of flickr

Problems with handoffs are a big deal in clinical practice. Defective handoffs lead to patient harm, treatment delays, inappropriate treatment, and longer stays in the hospital. In a typical patient handoff between physicians, important patient information is often not given to physicians who take over care of a patient. In a hospital, “[s]hift changes, also known as handoffs, are prime opportunities for key information about a patient’s condition to get lost in the shuffle,” according to a recently released study about patient handoffs in JAMA Internal Medicine [1].

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Topics: Care Coordination, Healthcare Analytics, Referral Management, Healthcare Data, Care Transitions

Online Referral Management is a Piece of Cake Compared to EHR Rollouts

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 8/25/16 1:54 PM

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Electronic health record (EHR) rollouts are huge undertakings. It cost Massachusetts General Hospital $1.2 billion to shift towards Epic Systems’ EHR over the last three years. And the rollout has been complicated. They had to keep their old, homegrown systems running at the same time while they switched to their new EHR system. On top of that, they had to conduct extensive data conversions, testing and staff training.

Outpatient physician practices don’t fare much better with EHR rollouts. Outpatient EHR system implementations are estimated to cost $46,569 per physician. And one study of 49 PCP practices determined that the average 5-year return-on-investment of an EHR system was a loss of $43,743 per physician. 73% of the surveyed primary care practices demonstrated a negative ROI from EHR systems over 5 years.

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Topics: Referral Management, EHR

Come Together, Right Now, Over Referrals

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 8/18/16 8:04 AM

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Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine recently championed the concept of primary care physicians and specialists working closely together as partners, rather than continuing disconnected referral relationships.

Partnering with Primary Care

H&HN’s article touts the increased efficiency and improved patient care in organizations with tightly aligned specialty and primary care partners.

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Topics: Referral Management, Interoperability, HIT, Referral Management Application

Why Don’t More Doctors Electronically Share Records Outside of Their Practice?

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 8/16/16 5:00 AM

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Healthcare practitioners want to provide the best care for their patients both during and after office visits. But one major stumbling block is that the majority of physicians in the United States aren’t capable of sharing information electronically outside of their practices. Data shows that the majority of primary care practices are struggling to seamlessly share patient information, efficiently manage referrals, and facilitate interoperable communication with specialist partners.

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Topics: Referral Management, Interoperability

Referral Management Applications That Go Beyond the EHR Are a “Light at the End of the Tunnel”

Posted by Jeremy Guttman on 8/10/16 12:00 PM

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A recent article in technology and business magazine Fast Company heaped praise on user-friendly applications that go beyond electronic health record (EHR) systems. The beginning of the article detailed a number of the pitfalls of EHR systems:

1. EHRs were not set up for patient care

One pitfall of EHRs outlined in the Fast Company article is that they “weren't designed to help their providers treat patients.” The article states that EHRs are more geared towards meeting regulatory requirements, maximizing billing and avoiding liability. The Meaningful Use program was implemented by the government in 2011 to incentivize adoption of EHR systems, but Meaningful Use has been criticized for rewarding usage of EHRs rather than rewarding better patient outcomes.

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Topics: Referral Management, Referral Management Application

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