(Last updated: 10/02/20)

Certain illnesses, like high blood pressure, are sometimes called “silent killers.” They don’t have visible symptoms, but they threaten a patient’s health. The delivery of healthcare has its own silent killers, so to speak—difficulties in the process and workflow that lead to poor care and needless wastes of time and money. Ambulatory care is prone to this problem. To better understand the problems that arise with “invisible” ambulatory orders, we’ll examine a hypothetical scenario. Then, we’ll discuss a solution to ambulatory order visibility problems.

Visibility Problems in Ambulatory Orders

Ambulatory orders suffer from a number of visibility problems. Consider the following scenario. A patient goes to see his or her doctor. The doctor orders an ambulatory service like an MRI. The patient gets a written order. The imaging center gets a call or a fax to set up the service delivery.

From that moment on, each participant in the delivery and billing of that MRI is unable to see what’s happening with the others.

  • The patient may or may not actually keep the appointment.
  • The imaging facility doesn’t know where the patient is.
  • The referring physician has no idea if the patient has gotten the service.

In addition, order details may not be clear. The imaging center could have trouble fulfilling the order. For example, the patient wasn’t told about some aspect of preparation for the service or doesn’t meet physical requirements for proper testing.

Why Ambulatory Order Visibility is Important

As a result of these gaps in visibility, the patient may show up for a service that can’t be delivered correctly. Alternatively, he or she doesn’t show up at all. This requires a process of rescheduling that wastes time, provides an unsatisfactory patient experience, and leaves expensive equipment idle.

A recent real-world example also shows the financial implications of ambulatory order visibility problems. A recent New York Times article details how a hospital forgot to bill a patient for a COVID-19 test. This resulted in the patient’s insurance refusing to cover the $1,980 hospital visit because, without the COVID-19 test on the bill, the visit didn’t qualify for a free COVID-19 diagnosis visit. When the patient contacted the hospital about the issue, they didn’t have a record of her receiving a COVID-19 test. Eventually, the patient and the New York Times were able to track down evidence that she had in fact been administered a COVID-19 test, leading the hospital to resubmit her ER bill with the test added to her insurance company, which paid for the visit in full. This entire ordeal could have been avoided with proper ambulatory order visibility protocols in place.

How to Improve Ambulatory Order Visibility

Order management systems like iOrder add visibility to the complete ambulatory order process. They do this by creating a single, unified record of the order. Everyone involved in the service ordering and delivery process—as well as the patient—can see every relevant detail of the order in real time.

The referring physician can tell if the patient has shown up for the appointment. The doctor will automatically get the results of the service. This can be critical to providing good quality care. Indeed, patient health can suffer when they don’t get the services they need. The referring physician practice is usually too busy to follow up and see if the patient had the service. With order management systems, the referring physician can be automatically notified at each step in the order process.

The service provider knows that the patient is coming. Instructions for preparation and details about the location and time of the appointment are sent directly to the patient.

Order management software can help you make the ambulatory order process more visible. The outcomes from implementing order management software include greater staff predictably, higher patient satisfaction, better care delivery, and increased profitability. If you want to learn how iOrder can make your ambulatory order process more transparent, contact us today.