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An e-referrals solution can be integrated with a regional electronic health record (EHR) or Health Information Exchange (HIE) to allow healthcare organizations to reap the benefits of comprehensive access to patient data provided by an EHR.
Fremont, CA: A clinical referral is mainly a transfer of patient care from one clinician or healthcare service to another, and it is a critical document that enables the communication and collaboration required to provide the most appropriate care and treatment to the patient. The goal of clinical referrals is to ensure that patients are referred to the appropriate healthcare service or specialist and that they have the necessary information in a timely manner.
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A startling number of healthcare organizations around the world continue to send and receive clinical referrals via fax machines. One of the major issues with a paper-based referrals system is that it is nearly impossible to determine whether or not a referral went missing. There is no way to see how a referral is progressing through the system, and some referrals simply go missing, which clinicians are unaware of unless a patient brings it to their attention.
A missed referral has the potential to endanger a patient's life or delay their access to timely medical care. This can jeopardize their long-term health, often without the patient or family realizing it until it's too late.
An electronic referrals solution provides several important benefits to both clinicians and patients:
Enhanced Communication between Healthcare Providers
Moving to an electronic system reduces manual processes significantly and offers standardization across providers. It can also improve communication by sending a copy of a clinical referral as well as the outcome to the patient's primary care physician. This is a significant improvement in 'between services' and 'between settings' communication, allowing for consistent grading and increasing visibility.
Improved Clinical Decision Support
An e-referrals solution can be integrated with a regional electronic health record (EHR) or Health Information Exchange (HIE) to allow healthcare organizations to reap the benefits of comprehensive access to patient data provided by an EHR. Implementing an electronic referrals solution on top of an EHR allows for more care coordination, providing clinicians with a clearer picture of the patient's health and ensuring that a patient's care is managed efficiently.
The Auckland region of New Zealand has used an electronic system to streamline its referrals process. The Auckland region's three District Health Boards (DHBs) – Auckland, Counties Manukau, and Waitemata – serve more than 1.5 million people. Each DHB has its own areas of specialization and population profile. This, combined with the close proximity of the DHBs, means that there is a significant amount of patient migration and crossover as they move between providers.