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Timely Information Exchange Between Primary Care and Specialists Improves Care Transitions

November 21, 2019

To: All Providers

The 2019 medical record review for timeliness and quality of information exchange between selected primary care providers (PCPs) and specialists was recently completed.  A sample of 194 PCP records was reviewed. This included records for members who had two PCP visits within 24 months, and at least one PCP visit and one specialist visit within the last 12 months. Ophthalmology and OB/GYN specialists were chosen, as they represent a large sample size and lower rates of information exchange.

Results were as follows:

  Number of Records Reviewed % of Specialist Records Present % of Specialist Records Received Timely  % of Records with Evidence of PCP Review
Ophthalmology                   92 53% 95% 59%
OB/GYN 102 44% 100% 53%
Total 194 48% 98% 56%


  • Sharing of information has on average improved since 2018. The percentage of specialist records received timely increased to 98% (from 72%) and the percentage of records with evidence of PCP review increased to 56% (from 27%).
  • Specialists are mostly sharing information within 30 days of an office visit.
  • Although the performance goal of 60% for information exchange between PCP and specialists was not met, it is steadily improving. On average, the percentage of specialist medical records present increased to 48% (from 37%).

Helpful tips

  • Sign or initial consults received to signify review. For electronic reports, utilize a method to document review.
  • Continue to educate patients about the importance of information sharing and ask if there are providers who should receive their health information.
  • Consider other approaches, such as direct messaging, which is an electronic method that allows health providers to securely exchange clinical information. Direct messaging is a functionality of most electronic health record (EHR) systems and is also available through regional health information exchanges (HIEs). 

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