Give me, Give me, Give me…Referral Visibility

give_me_reporting_visibilityOK, it’s a given. Everybody agrees that digital dictation is able to shrink turnaround times from days to hours while taking GP and secretary productivity to where it should be: a good place. But that doesn’t answer THE question: can a digital dictation system (DDS) ALSO shed light on referral patterns for you?

YES IT CAN

It’s only logical if you think about it: a DDS automates the entire referral creation and typing workflow. It keeps track of not only what was dictated and typed when and where, by whom and for which patient ID from the Clinical System. It can also prompt the clinician for the specialty and referral type at the outset. So let’s face it: refusing to pull up a full-fledged referral report at any point in time would be one lazy move for a DDS, knowing that it’s got ALL the data in store.

Yet, very few systems provide such reporting at the moment, resulting in yet another aspirin prescription for the lucky practice manager in charge of cross-checking referrals through multiple spreadsheets. So let’s concentrate on one who does.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

It’s only logical if you think about it: a DDS automates the entire referral creation and typing workflow. It keeps track of not only what was dictated and typed when and where, by whom and for which patient ID from the Clinical System. It can also prompt the clinician for the specialty and referral type at the outset. So let’s face it: refusing to pull up a full-fledged referral report at any point in time would be one lazy move for a DDS, knowing that it’s got ALL the data in store.

Yet, very few systems provide such reporting at the moment, resulting in yet another aspirin prescription for the lucky practice manager in charge of cross-checking referrals through multiple spreadsheets. So let’s concentrate on one who does.

The Ladder

  • Granting reception staff access to referral statuses in real-time? That’s transforming data into reliable, valuable information for Mr. Smith who just called the Surgery to find out about his referral.
  • Shedding light on phantom referrals and putting related penalties to rest? That’s sorting a problem.
  • Being able to run an audit in a few clicks at any point in time, that’s the end of suffering.
  • Now if you’re in the process of running new training courses based on the analysis of high referrers, you’re introducing value into the equation.
  • Same conclusion regarding Dr. Bellamy’s new Thursday clinic: he is doing such a great job with his Dermatology referrals that it makes sense to set up a weekly clinic offering Local Enhanced Services, thereby allowing both the practice and the NHS to save money.
  • Now if you’ve been tracking high referrals to certain specialties for a while and concluded that a local alternative would prove better for patients and more cost efficient than referring to secondary care, you’re so high up on the ladder that fellow practice managers might start calling you for advice. You’ve reached the point where your weaknesses and strengths are regularly analysed so you can improve the quality of care in the areas most needed.

WHAT ABOUT END USERS?

Yes, what about them? What does referral reporting mean for doctors and secretaries?

Nothing they need to worry about…provided you’ve got the right workflow in place. Everything is transparent for them as they are guaranteed automatic labeling of demographics into the report thanks to a seamless integration between their DDS and their clinical system. This saves doctors’ time and gives the secretary unique information on each patient, thereby eliminating the risk of referrals being associated with the wrong patient.

To further improve security and save time for the secretary, there should also be a lookup feature that opens the correct patient in the clinical system (i.e.: SystmOne) when a dictation is selected for transcription.

PATIENT CENTRIC CONCLUSION

The “patient being seen once, by the right doctor, with the right advice and the right prescription” story: that’s making best use of the precious NHS resources available locally, and that’s all we ask for as patients. But in order for this story to leave Fantasy Land and enter reality, easy access to reliable, detailed, and meaningful referral data is required on the practice side.

That’s one of the many links I’m not the only one to see between visibility and quality of care. Don’t these two grow well together?

Cheers,

The Equalizer

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