eReferral System Boosts Medical Center Bookings - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
05:49 PM

eReferral System Boosts Medical Center Bookings

A portal-based referral system from Carefx and a clinical information exchange from GE Healthcare increase appointments and reduce patient no-shows.

Boston Medical Center, plus its 15 community healthcare centers, which together make up Boston HealthNet, provides outpatient care to more than 1 million patients a year. The majority of those patients are "underserved," meaning they are low income, disabled, or elderly and qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, or sometimes don't have insurance at all.

Boston HealthNet patients seen by primary care doctors at community health centers need referrals to see specialists, like orthopedic or cardiologists, at the medical center.

But until recently, only about 30% of those referrals ended up with patients actually seeing a Boston Medical Center specialist. That's because the referral process, which involved paper, faxes, phone calls or other mostly manual steps handled by office coordinators, often fell through the cracks. Specialists did not always receive a referred patient's medical information in time, appointments didn't always get set up, and patients didn't always show up.

But a new portal-based eReferral system provided by Carefx Corp., along with a new clinical information exchange, recently deployed at Boston HealthNet by GE Healthcare, has already doubled the percentage of referred patients booked by coordinators and seen by Boston Medical Center specialists.

The new system is projected to save Boston Medical Center about $7 million over the next five years through improved efficiencies. Revenue is expected to grow via a dramatic increase in the number of patients who actually follow-through with their specialist visits.

The new portal provides coordinators at the community health center and specialty departments at the medical center with a standardized workflow for setting up patient appointments, as well as making sure those specialists are provided with the patient's pertinent electronic medical record information at the time of the appointment. The portal also helps coordinators contact patients to remind them about scheduled appointments.

In the past, referrals often took 30 days to process. Now referrals take only two days. The eReferral portal presents coordinators with a workspace that includes a list of tasks that need to be completed in a set amount of time for each patient referral. Among the tasks is sending electronic packages of key patient medical information to specialists before patients' scheduled appointments.

"If information doesn't get to the specialist by the time of care, the specialists don't know why the patient is there, what tests have been done, etc.," said Joel Vengco, executive director of clinical information systems at Boston Medical Center. "The process of doing this is cumbersome," he said. In addition, on the back end of patient visits with specialists, there was difficulty in providing primary care doctors with the new information and updates about the individuals.

That information dearth has been addressed with the eReferral portal and a new clinical information exchange (CIE) launched in June by Boston HealthNet.

1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll