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The Different Types of Medical Tracking Systems
Tracking of medical diagnostic test results in today’s health environment can be overwhelming. Having a working system in place can prevent results from being lost, misplaced, or filed without being reviewed by the physician. These types of systems or procedures are referred to in many ways, including: a “pend” or pending file, a tickler system, or a tracking system. Some offices have no method for monitoring this at all.
A tracking system can be anything from a written log or box of note cards, to an elaborate computer assisted tracking program. Only you and your staff can determine the best method possible for tracking outstanding lab and diagnostic results in your practice. Here is a review of a few different types of medical tracking systems to give you a better idea of which could work best in your practice:
A tickler file is any type of file that is typically arranged by day or date. Someone in the office is then responsible for checking the file each day, or on a particular day or date. A tickler file works best when checked on a daily basis.
Recipe Box. The tickler file can be as simple as a recipe box with note cards. Simply note the patient’s name and the tests needed on the card and place it behind the day or date when you believe the results will be ready. Some offices use the next day, others use the following week. It is recommended that a patient’s card is not left pending for more than 10 days.
File Folder. You can also use an expanding file folder with dividers for days or dates. If you have requisition forms that are duplicates or triplicates, or paper size and can be easily copied, this may the right system for you. Make sure you have someone responsible for checking the folder daily.
A notebook is also a useful way to track this information. The notebook is used as a chronological log, using lines to track patient name or number, date, test, and a last column for date received. Each line item remains open until the received column is completed with a date. Again, check the notebook daily.
Computer Programs or Electronic Medical Records
Computer programs, web-based systems, and electronic medical records (EMRs) can provide assistance in tracking for physicians and clinics. These options should be looked at individually based upon need, desire to go electronic, and cost. With the amount of funds available through the government, this option is becoming more affordable than ever before. Talk to your IT or computer systems vendor to see what can be built into your current system, or do some research on available EMRs that will improve your tracking.
Whether tracking lab results, pathology results, mammogram results, or other diagnostic results, it is imperative that an easy and reliable tracking system is utilized daily for your medical practice or facility. There are a variety of tracking systems to choose from that will help your practice avoid losing any crucial information on a patient. One of the best ways for you to build a successful practice and avoid litigation is to use the tracking system that best suits you and your practice.
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