Advancements in science and technology have changed every sphere of life. The healthcare industry has also evolved and changed with technology making its presence felt across healthcare services and processes. From better treatments to enhanced operations, technology has enhanced every sphere of the healthcare industry. Technological tools and devices have greatly reduced manual work and effort, while also greatly enhancing communication, effectiveness and efficiency of multi-level activities. The one sphere where technology has still not greatly shown improvements is the ability to reduce medical errors. These medical errors can be broadly divided into two categories: errors in diagnosis and treatment and errors in operational processes. Both of these errors are dependent on the data available. The only difference is that before the advent of technology, these errors happened because of lack of data but now, with technology, these errors are a result of excessive data. Electronically updated health record systems are great data storehouses but even the slightest error in updating the data can lead to big and drastic errors. These electronic systems have been put in place by almost every healthcare organization. The data stored here adds to the treatment, reference and decision making capacities of health care experts. These experts deal with large amounts of data every day and these errors happen.
The other area of medical errors is with referrals. As mentioned above, since experts handle large amounts of data every day, the errors seep into the process of referring patients too. Sending the wrong information at the time of reference leads to associated problems like reaching out to the wrong person, the concerned person losing out on the opportunity and time to visit the required specialist. It’s thus a long and complex chain that has multiple loopholes, all tracked down to errors in referring a patient. Referral management systems have thus become the need of the hour. An effective referral management system reduces errors by bridging communication gaps between the patient, specialist and healthcare organization. Better communication reduces the time it takes for a patient to connect with a specialist and thus reduces the time for proper diagnosis and effective treatment to be administered. It also reduces the need to get the same tests done repeatedly, wrong medical data and other vital information. With an effective referral management system, all medical errors can be completely negated and the following benefits can occur:
- Identification of the right specialist at the right time
- Enhanced communication channels and bridging the gap between a patient and specialist
- Better utilization of recorded medical data
- Effective and convenient process
- Minimizes the effort and enhances the efficiency
- Reduces the wait time
- Improves the process of scheduling appointments and tests
The healthcare field has no room for errors. Medical errors of any kind can lead to critical situations and all the effective ways must be implemented to reduce the possibility of such errors.