There are many specialties in the world of medicine and when our symptoms don’t fall within the scope of knowledge of one specialty, we are transferred to another. We have all been subject to the ping pong effect of bouncing from one specialist to the next when our health is lacking. Researching our symptoms on the Internet can only take us so far.
Cross-Specialty Patient Transfers and Referrals
Although patients only see their side of the unpleasantry of being transferred, doctors get the short end of the stick too when it comes to these types of situations. Family physicians would much rather treat patients and send them home with a clean bill of health than to transfer them. Specialists would also like to diminish the overload of patients they receive to offer more timely care.
A study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that from 1999 to 2009, physician referrals increased by 159%.
The fact of the matter is, when specialists are transferred patients, some could easily have been completely treated by a general practitioner. The lack of only a small portion of information could have halted the transfer.
This begs the question: how can specialists provide other physicians general information on regular cases and resources to better inform them?
An Example: Urologists
Take, for example, urologists. With the increasing patient demands and transfers, urologists are searching for ways to diminish the influx of patient requests. With the nature of the minor symptoms patients have when transferred, one way to diminish them would be to provide general practitioners with the resources and necessary information to treat patients while they are still in the clinic or emergency room.
The same goes for specialists when they are transferred patients. In the haste of wanting to treat a patient and make sure they receive the proper care, specialists receive patient files that sometimes lack information or have difficulty reaching general practitioners for a complete follow-through. The same can be said for cross-specialty transfers.
IT in Healthcare
The necessary tools and resources provided to both specialists and general practitioners can greatly improve patient care coordination.
“Accessing detailed patient health and treatment information provides insight to better decision making and problem solving, and is ultimately a gateway to improved patient outcomes. Specialty care providers are often located outside a hospital’s care network, and lack access to the kind of information they need to treat patients. IT can facilitate secure access to this information, so that specialists can become true collaborators in the care process, even providing valuable input back into the system to complete a patient's treatment history.”
The presence of IT in healthcare is growing at an exponential rate to not only shoulder healthcare personnel in their work, but to make their work easier and more convenient. This would also alleviate the growing amount of specialty requests that often surpass workload capacities and hinder a patient’s health.
Technological resource centers allow physicians, nurses and other hospital staff to share information on cases, treatments and countless other important documentation in a secure and private manner.
PetalMD has a network of over 29,000 physicians who share documents and information daily within their groups and can connect to physicians across Canada at the touch of a button. These files can also be archived, allowing physicians to keep and access important documents at all times, from any device. This resource center is part of the physician scheduling solutions, the hospital on-call list dashboard and the online patient booking solution.
Imagine having better care coordination that benefits both patients and doctors by simply providing healthcare professionals with a tool to share their knowledge and resources amongst themselves.