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Providers are trying to manage referrals better via technology.

Cantex Continuing Care Network and Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries announced last month that, along with Netsmart, they were launching the Netsmart Referral Manager. It allows better processed referrals, which will increase efficiency, the providers said. 

An automated solution eliminates phone calls, faxes and manual data entry. By starting to use the Referral Manager, Cantex and Diakon have better qualified referrals, and the time to process those referrals has decreased by 73%.

“We have been able to remove a lot of the cumbersome documentation which has allowed us to become more seamless with our work,” said Deanna Ziemba, Diakon senior vice president. “We can breeze through forms and notes, whittling down our referral process.”

Agility is needed with referral requests, said Netsmart CEO Mike Valentine. 

A clinically driven patient view is “particularly vital to the referral decision process,” he said. “This is not about just electronically exchanging messages; this requires advanced logic that is driven by a combination of real-time integration with EHRs and robust interoperability.”

The referral process also impacts how acute-care facilities are looking for skilled nursing options. PointClickCare’s Harmony lets acute-care facilities review historical and current facility performance data, noted B. J. Boyle, vice president and general manager of post-acute insights at PointClickCare.

Frustratingly, though, the company found in a recent study that nearly half of acute care providers are still using faxes, and 36% are using manual-only options to coordinate patient transitions rather than an integrated EHR. 

MatrixCare is also focused on interoperability, with Product Manager Bradley Lawton noting caution around disconnected third-party referral management tools.

“Let’s face it, we simply don’t have time to enter data multiple times in multiple systems,” he said.