Digital Referrals

by Larry Emmott on July 3, 2009

in General,Internet,Management,Paperless

First generation attempts to create digital referral slips simply recreate the paper form in an electronic format. The dentist still needs to fill in the information (patient name, practice information, tooth #, diagnosis etc.) by hand with a mouse and keyboard.

Second generation digital referral slips are smart and interactive.

The system will upload all the appropriate patient data from the paperless record. This would include the minimum information we now scribble on the paper slip; patient name the tooth and the treatment.

But that’s not all. With a smart interactive referral you are not limited to minimums. The online digital referral system will upload all the patient information; like address, employment, contact numbers and the other things we need to create a new patient record. The system will upload the patient’s insurance information; plan, group numbers, contacts and benefits. The system will upload the patient’s health history with areas of concern noted.

In other words all the information a patient usually needs to spend time writing onto a form on an old brown clip board is sent automatically before the patient even arrives for the first appointment. Rather than spending time typing and clicking the information from the hand filled form to the computer chart the data automatically fills in the computer chart.

Digital communication is very fast (virtually instantaneous) and very inexpensive. However there is an even greater benefit that is so obvious it is often not appreciated and that is that digital communications allows us to transmit digital data. And it is now possible to turn virtually everything we do (photos, radiographs, pocket probings, and even impressions) into digital data.

Using a smart interactive referral system you will upload diagnostics like photos, x-rays and probings. These will be available to the specialist before the patient arrives, they are the same quality as the originals (unlike a conventional copy of a model or a radiograph) and they can be enhanced with diagnostic software.

As the referring dentist you will then be prompted to fill in details using a decision tree. A decision tree is an interactive system that guides the user through various selections with each new decision based on the previous answer. For example the system could ask, “Is the patient experiencing pain?”  If the answer is yes then a new and different set of questions is launched. “Is the pain constant?” “Is the pain mild, moderate or severe?” and so on.

If the answer to the first question is no, then the system jumps to a completely different symptom, “Is there any swelling?”

Once you have made it through the decision tree you will have a blank page on which to type all the detailed notes you wish.

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