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Survey: Gaps in Referral Process between U.S. Medical Providers

November 19, 2010
by root
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When referring patients, physicians are more likely to call another provider or give patients referral information rather than exchanging details of the patient's medical history electronically, according to a new survey conducted by Growth Survey Research for Practice Fusion, the San Francisco-based electronic health record (EHR) provider. The survey, which sampled 183 primary care medical providers, highlights the complexity and inefficiency of traditional physician referral workflows, an issue that the national switch to EHR systems aims to improve.

Nearly half of physicians surveyed by Practice Fusion had more than 30 physicians in their referral network with 19 percent reporting having more than 100. The majority of medical practices surveyed reported that they either call the other provider or give information to patients when making a referral. Providers who use an electronic process to generate referral letters reported significantly more satisfaction with their referral method than those who reported calling other providers.

Gaps in the exchange of patient information after the referral is issued are also problematic and can lead to increased healthcare costs due to duplication of services. Providers issuing referrals often do not receive feedback about the patient's visit with a specialist.

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