Connectivity

To support successful referrals and transitions, all providers involved must have the information they need to optimize care and a trustworthy way of communicating. The goal is to assure that critical information flow occurs in a timely way and that it incorporates agreed-upon guidelines for referrals and transitions.
 

Key changes, activities, and resources

At a glance

Key changes
#6 Develop and implement an information transfer system.
Activities
• Use a shared electronic health record or web-based referral system, or set up another standardized information flow process.   
Resources
· Enhancing continuity of information: essential components of a referral document [link]
·  Enhancing continuity of information: essential components of a consultation report [link]
·  Optimizing referrals and consults with a standardized process [link]
·  Are electronic medical records helpful for care coordination? Experiences of physician practices [link]
·  Bridging the Care Gap: Using Web Technology for Patient Referrals [link]

 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
More about key change #6
  
#6  Develop and implement an information transfer system.
High-quality referrals and transitions depend upon every provider in the chain having the information they need when they need it.  It’s important to discuss what key information needs to be transferred between providers while you are in the process of developing an agreement (key change #5).  One example of key information is test results:  when patients are referred without test results needed for a consultation, the referral might be refused, a duplicate test might be done, or a repeat visit might be needed.
 
Whether electronic or pencil-and-paper, effective information transfer systems will include four main elements:
  • A shared understanding of what information each party needs.
  • A method for checking that the needed information arrives at the correct destination.
  • A way to track key milestones in the referral process.
  • A way for providers and consultants to communicate effectively with each other.
 
Structured referral requests and consultation notes help ensure that each party gets the information they need.  While a paper system can accomplish the key functions listed above, an electronic referral system has added advantages—such as features that can prevent the transfer of a referral request until the needed information is entered, or that allow virtual consultations between referring and specialty providers.
  

Learn More

  • Download the complete toolkit [PDF]
  • Published articles on best practices for referral requests and consultation notes: 
           Enhancing continuity of information: essential components of a referral document [link
           Enhancing continuity of information: essential components of a consultation report [link
           Optimizing referrals and consults with a standardized process [link]
  • Information about using Web technology in care coordination:
           Are electronic medical records helpful for care coordination? Experiences of physician practices [link]
            Bridging the Care Gap: Using Web Technology for Patient Referrals [link]