The Treatspace Referral Management Blog

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

7 Reasons DSM Does Not Get the Job Done

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 3/6/17 1:43 PM

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Once considered a critical component of meaningful use, DSM (Direct secure messaging) within an EHR poses significant limitations to referral management. While it conveys information electronically within a practice,  DSM alone does not provide for comprehensive data exchanges between PCPs and consulting physicians. The Journal of General Internal Medicine notes that communication breakdowns affect care delivery between two practices on different systems. Specialists report that, 86% of the time, they do not receive information from the PCP prior to the referral visit. Additionally, poor referral tracking leads to inappropriate or unnecessary referrals and inefficiencies in care delivery. DSM in EHRs presents inevitable challenges for both primary and specialty care practices.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Referral Management, DSM, EHR

Why Web-Based Referral Management Leads to More Patient Visits

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 2/9/17 11:06 AM

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The traditional patient referral process is broken. Its primary shortcomings - poor communication and follow-up - have far-reaching consequences.

Consider these stats: Only half of referrals result in a completed appointment, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine. The Journal of General Internal Medicine found that, while 70% of PCPs report sending information to specialists, only 32% of specialists receive clinical information before seeing the patient. An Archives of Internal Medicine study shows that PCPs report not receiving consult reports about 40% of the time; and when reports are sent, the Journal of General Internal Medicine adds, they arrive at least seven days after the patient visit in 64% of cases.

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Topics: Referral Network, Referral Management, Patient Adherence

How Poor Communication Between Providers Can Be Costly

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 1/31/17 5:15 AM

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The loop in communication and clinical documentation between healthcare providers has traditionally been open for many organizations. Often when referrals are made, they are left largely to the patient to schedule. Many physicians may not even check whether the patient was seen by the specialist until the patient's next appointment or if contacted for records.

There are a million moving parts to the healthcare landscape today, so it's understandable that follow up with referrals might slip through the cracks without a proper protocol. Unfortunately, the cost of poor care coordination can be exorbitant - for the patient's own health and for the physicians and organizations involved.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Referral Management, Provider Accountability, Direct secure messaging

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

8 Traits That Make a Referral Partner Great

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 1/23/17 9:32 AM

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A critical, but often-overlooked, aspect of the referral process is cultivating provider partnerships that facilitate referrals and enhance the continuum of care. The continued emphasis on value-based care will result in increasing numbers of physicians working together to coordinate care, especially for patients with chronic conditions. While the traditional referral system is generally regarded as inadequate, best practices can help you optimize working relationships with collaborating physicians.

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Topics: Referral Network, Referral Management

How Independent Practices Should Handle Electronic Referral Management

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 1/11/17 6:23 AM

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Over the past decade, as healthcare organizations began to implement electronic referral management applications, studies were conducted to measure their overall functionality and value in patient care and satisfaction. The results proved that when handled properly, electronic referral management cured several problems inherent in the old paper-based coordination of care procedures. What emerged from years of trial and error was a clear set of best practices for both primary and specialty care facilities that keeps the patient front and center.

When a healthcare organization decides to implement an ERM, what are those best practices to keep in mind?

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Topics: Referral Management, Referral Workflow

How to Create a Better Referral Workflow

Posted by Christian Kratsas on 12/19/16 1:50 PM

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As value-based care takes center stage in healthcare, primary care providers (PCPs) and specialists must find ways to eliminate communication deficiencies and share information more effectively to ensure a more well-rounded and positive patient experience. Strong quality scores, efficient operations, and credible customer service are no longer just admirable traits of a positive care coordination environment; they’re quickly becoming characteristics that define whether primary care succeeds or falls short in value-based care.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Referral Management, 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

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