A physician referring a patient to smoking cessation services more than doubles the chances that the patient will seek help. But results are much better when a physician electronically refers a patient.

That’s an early lesson from a program in Texas that encourages physicians to use the CollaborNet health information exchange software of Holon Solutions to send an electronic referral to the state-funded Texas Tobacco Quitline program. Quitline offers consumers who call on their own to receive at no charge five counseling sessions. However, a patient referred by a physician to Quitline gets the five sessions and two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy, says Shelly Summers-Karn, director of the Texas Tobacco Education, Cessation and Community Coalition program at the University of Texas at Austin.

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