How technology helps shorten ‘Referral to Treatment’

Modern technology is helping healthcare organizations increase staff productivity

For patients, having access to specialized treatment in a timely manner is essential, even lifesaving. Healthcare staff who are involved in any aspect of a referral to treatment management must understand how technology can help them deliver excellence throughout the process.

Individual patients who require specialized treatment have the legal right to elective care in a timely manner, or for the healthcare provider to take all reasonable steps to offer them alternatives if this is not possible. Should patients have physical or mental conditions that require further treatment, they are referred by their doctor to the
appropriate specialized practitioner within maximum waiting times.

When the clock starts ticking

A Referral to Treatment (RTT) pathway is the length of time that a patient waited from referral to start of treatment, or if they have not yet started treatment, the length of time that a patient has waited so far. In this process, time is of essence as the outcome for a patient could potentially be life or death, when serious conditions are suspected. Once a referral is made, the clock starts ticking and the healthcare provider have a commitment to ensure that patients’ data is entered in the system quickly and accurately, so patients can get into treatment as soon as the appropriate care is available.

Challenges ahead

With a maximum number of weeks for patients to be seen from the original referral to when they are treated, there is a great deal of pressure on different healthcare entities to fulfill the administrative side of the referral. From surgeries, clinics or hospitals, it’s vital that all the necessary paperwork is updated and completed along the way. Patient lists are rapidly growing. With considerably busy workloads, medical and other healthcare professionals are already short on time. Adding admin tasks to their jobs only takes them away from what they supposed to do – care for their patients.

Increasing productivity through voice technology

If time is a critical factor in a referral to treatment process, technology is key to improve productivity by automating administrative tasks. With so much time required in completing paperwork in addition to giving medical advice and treatments, healthcare staff should be empowered with technology that allows them to record and automate details of patients’ appointments, diagnosis, medication, treatment progress and outcomes.

Cost vs. efficiency

For healthcare providers cost is always a vital factor when choosing technology, but the cheapest is not always the wisest choice. Unfortunately some organizations are still using analog tape recorders for registering notes. With such basic equipment, it takes a long time for information to be digitized. Furthermore analog tape recorders or entry-level digital devices are not sufficient to comply with data protection guidelines because confidential information is left vulnerable to unauthorized access. These elementary devices not only delay patient data being entered in the system, but are also far from offering compliant levels of data security.

Introducing new technology might not always be an easy process, but with data security challenges and increased workload on the rise, it’s worth to start investing as soon as possible to reap the benefits of digital workflows as quickly as possible and ultimately improve patient care.


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You might also be interested in our blog post Protecting confidential patient data!

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