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Doctors say flawed referrals common

More than a quarter of physician referrals are at least somewhat inappropriate, according to a survey of specialists by the Boston medical software company Kyruus.

The web survey of 100 doctors spanning 11 areas of expertise found that at least 75 percent of them had a patient visit them whose referral was “completely inappropriate,” Kyruus said. Those referrals accounted for eight percent of all specialist visits, while another 18 percent of referrals were deemed only “somewhat appropriate.” Nationally, the company estimated that 19.7 million wrong referrals occured every year.

Kyruus, which makes software that is designed to help hospital networks improve their patient referrals, calculated that lost wages and wasted copays from those referrals cost patients $1.9 billion per year. That figure doesn’t include the consequences of wasting doctors’ time.

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“The current process for referrals in our health ecosystem is broken,” said Graham Gardner, the company’s chief executive. “This dysfunction substantially affects patients’ ability to access the care they need when they need it.”

The survey, which was conducted in February, was the first by Kyruus. A company spokesman said it may conduct a similar survey annually in the future.


Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.