Hospitals want to have strong relationships with referring physicians. Making this happen can be a bit challenging, though. Take the difficulty in establishing transparency and streamlined workflows for medical service orders. As experienced healthcare administrators know, even the simplest service order creates paperwork (or its digital equivalent) and, in general, a great many manual processing steps. It’s an inefficient, error-prone business. However, new advances in electronic order processing promise to alleviate some of the drudgery and improve the hospital/referrer relationship in the process.

Overview of the Order Cycle

Orders for services like labs and rehab typically originate with a physician who may or may not work directly for the hospital. This difference alone account for many errors and stumbles in the order fulfillment process. The order gets entered in the Hospital Information System (HIS) and is routed to the proper department or vendor. In some cases, the service order is for an outside company like a laboratory. The results of the order go back to the doctor who ordered the service. Billing and insurance reimbursement for the order flow through the HIS. Billing and reimbursement for the doctor’s services related to the order, e.g. reading an X-ray, go through the physician’s medical billing system.

Lack of Order Transparency and its Impact on Hospitals and Medical Practices

Despite the best of intentions and the work of a lot of smart people, the medical ordering process can be messy. Faxed orders require manual entry into the HIS. Mismatches in billing codes and ICD-10 codes can cause billing and reimbursement headaches. Communication between the hospital administration, the service provider and the referring medical practice can be incomplete. It is common for even a simple order to generate numerous phone and email follow ups in order to reach a satisfactory completion. The patient, of course, will also suffer if the work is not done promptly or correctly.

A lack of transparency is usually the main culprit. No single person or entity in the process of order request and completion has any idea what anyone else is doing. This is not anyone’s fault. It’s just the way healthcare information systems have been set up.

The status quo pleases no one. Physicians and their staffs get stretched too thin as they chase orders through an opaque system. The hospital wants to make the referring physician’s life easier. That would, after all, lead to more referrals and a mutually profitable business relationship between the hospital and the physician. The challenge is to make the process more transparent.

Solutions to Lack of Order Transparency

Ideally, an order for services should move in a frictionless manner across the different entities involved in executing the service and billing for it. Each participant in the chain of activities should have instant access to the complete status of the order and any medical record data that arises out of the service request, e.g. a digital x-ray or lab report.

Solutions are now on the market that create this level of order transparency and ambulatory order management workflow. These solutions, which often leverage the Internet and browser-based software for ease of use and universal access, connect all the entities in the service order process. The medical practice that requests the service places the order through the solution. The solution then routes the order request in electronic form to the service provider, which uses the same solution to process the order and bill for it.

Throughout, the solution can be integrated with the HIS. This integration keeps the centralized billing and record keeping systems up to date with the status of the order. The solution also delivers the results of the service back to the original order requesting physician. The result of this is greater transparency, fewer errors and much less time wasted tracking down service requests and clarifying order entry and billing errors.

iPro Healthcare offers a solution for ambulatory medical service order management. iPro iOrder has been proven to solve many of the transparency issues inherent in current systems. Hospitals leverage iPro iOrder to achieve transparency in order processing that lead to better, more productive relationships with referring physicians. To learn about iPro iOrder solution, visit