Referral Management

6 Issues of Referral Management Solution in Healthcare

January 17, 2023

Referral management systems are responsible for streamlining the referral process by providing details on the transfer of care between various healthcare providers.

For patient care, hospitals need to monitor and establish a reliable referral management solution closely. Referral management is an essential component of patient care and ensuring continuity of care. 

Poor coordination between healthcare professionals results in clinical, operational inefficiency, treatment delays, incorrect patient information, and incomplete patient data. As a result, the overall efficacy of patient care suffers.

However, many healthcare facilities are slow to implement the latest technology and increase barriers in the care continuum. 

This article focuses on finding out the six most common problems that a referral management solution faces in healthcare.

1. Documentation

Lack of coordination between providers often results in physicians missing valuable patient information. The traditional referral system is also prone to missing findings from initial tests when referring patients, resulting in complications that should not have happened.

Automated referral systems will ensure documentation of all patient information, and they can help physicians evaluate the patient's entire history before deciding if they need to refer their patient. Once this information is captured, physicians can follow up with any tests the patient needs, preventing further complications.

2. Errors with Referrals

Patients who suffer referral errors could suffer severe consequences, as they are one of the most significant issues resulting from inefficient referral management systems. In 2018, a research study estimated 440,000 deaths due to medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

With a robust referral management solution, you can ensure that all documentation gets to the right specialists, eliminate referral errors, and save lives.

3. Poor Hand-Offs

The traditional referral systems involve handing slips to patients and asking them to schedule an appointment themselves. The reality is, a majority will not follow up with scheduling their appointments. 

A significant reason for this is because scheduling a doctor's appointment involves making multiple phone calls, a long lead time, and considerable time and effort on the patients' end. All of which will leave most patients frustrated and frequently neglecting the process.

The poor handoff will lead to missed or delayed referrals, resulting in patients not receiving the necessary care. Furthermore, specialists lose revenue from no-shows. In the same way, primary care providers lose valuable time spent on coordinating referrals.

Using an automated referral management system, primary care physicians can easily schedule appointments for their patients directly from their end. At the same time, specialists can monitor appointments and efficiently reschedule them when they get pushed back.

4. Delay in Information Exchange

Another prevalent issue in traditional referral management solutions is the delay in information exchange between care providers. Handwritten referrals are prone to be lost or accidentally misplaced.

Additionally, busy hospitals cannot keep relevant patient data in paper-based systems, resulting in lost patient information or is hard to locate when the patients need it the most. 

The one-way transfer of information can be costly and time-consuming, leading to inefficient care delivery. Furthermore, the time gaps in the chain of referrals can result in delays.

With an adaptive referral management solution, all relevant information is captured and stored on a centralized database, alleviating the lack of coordination and increasing efficiency in medical care.

5. Inadequate Referral Tracking Systems

The primary care provider must track a referral throughout the patient's journey. In the absence of effective monitoring, referral coordinators cannot obtain information regarding what tests were ordered, when appointments were scheduled, or even if the patient attended the appointment.

Physicians refer patients for treatment when their conditions warrant it. Referral management systems must prove effective in ensuring that patients are seen and treated promptly following a referral. A poorly designed referral tracking system from care providers means their support staff must call specialists to verify a patient's arrival.

An electronic referral management system will ensure primary healthcare providers can adequately keep up with patient referrals, resulting in patients getting the care they need.

6. Failure with Follow-Ups

Referral cycle difficulties are exacerbated by specialists' inability to provide follow-up reports. Additionally, the patients' medical records do not show their condition information in real-time. Furthermore, doing these tasks manually may lead to errors, which may be significantly harmful to the patient if they occur in severe cases.

In healthcare, health providers face different challenges daily. Referral management solutions should be customized to each facility based on their needs, ensuring that their referral system is efficient, seamless, and effective in the care continuum. Cloud-based digital automation technology can help primary care providers and specialists save time, improve overall system efficiency, save money, and optimize their referral management process.

FloatCare is a referral management solution that streamlines patient records and facilitates one-click follow-ups for patients, physicians, and specialists.

Powered by a healthcare cloud, FloatCare provides a centralized repository for all patient data and access to all healthcare providers. With this streamlined process, primary care physicians can easily access patients' information, carry out their referral functions seamlessly, and ensure that their patients are getting the best treatment possible.

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