My Experience with Healthcare Referrals and Why Most Practices Could Face Huge Fines if Caught

Whats your referral storyRecently a friend had some chest pains, thinking it was just indigestion or stress, decided to wait it out, of course till his wife found out and “asked” him to go see their family practitioner.

This is where the story takes a turn for the worse.

After going in for a quick checkup, the doctor referred my friend to a specialist for a stress test to see if anything was out of the ordinary.   This referral was written on a triplicate form and handed to my friend to call the other practice to schedule an appointment.

My friend waited a few days and called to make an appointment. During the call the referral coordinator asked him to fax in the paper triplicate form to their office.

When my friend replied, I do not have a fax machine, can I email it to you.  The staff said “I do not know the practice’s email, but you can email it to my personal gmail account.”

Now for those that do not know, emailing documentation is against HIPAA privacy rules, and even worse, sending it to a staff’s private account where they can view personal information about the patient is against the law and carry huge fines. I have heard many similar stories from other people, so its a lot more common than you think. This is a huge problem that has not been addressed in today’s healthcare referral system.

Great infographic discussing the fines

Check out this detailed infographic about our healthcare system and the fines that could be coming your way soon.

Want more details about HIPAA Breaches? Look no further, check out an article we wrote called “Healthcare’s Dirty Secret – 15 Million Patient’s Private Information Exposed Since 2009

My Family Experience

Unfortunately these stories are not just about my friends. My personal story is one of my mother that has been in and out of the hospital and doctor offices for my entire life. Having to see her deal with her illnesses pains me everyday, but seeing her stay strong keeps me motivated to work hard and fix some of the issues plaguing the healthcare industry. The constant stream of misplaced and lost referrals has been the norm for over 30 years of my mother’s life and is the reason I started ReferralMD in the first place.

I have heard so many horror stories about patients asking to courier their own documents and the doctors not having access to up-to-date information about the patient’s reason for referral.  It upsets me that the communication gap between providers has grown so big.

Taking Action

Everyday I see my mother’s health slowly deteriorate due to a car accident in her youth and Parkinson’s disease that is aggressively getting worse where she can no longer walk without assistance.  With the ever changing cocktail of drugs that are assigned for her to take, her body can no longer manage which causes her to fall a lot. I hope to make things better in some small way for her and others in her position by changing how we communicate information. The fax machine is outdated and has no place in modern society.

Please share your story

If you have a personal story to tell about a loved one and how our current healthcare system can be improved, we would love to hear from you.

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