A patient referral ensures patients get the right diagnosis and treatment plan, secure second diagnostic opinions and assure continuity of care. With the healthcare system being highly fragmented and half of the annual requests for referrals are not being completed, this makes for communication gaps, insufficient information and misdirected referrals.
These challenges don’t just affect providers and the quality of care, but also leave patients feeling frustrated and unlikely to follow through with their provider’s recommendations. To better understand how to improve the process, Phreesia surveyed providers about the biggest problems they experience with referrals. Their responses revealed three major pain points:
Providers take different approaches to recommending specialists
Providers draw on a pool of criteria, whether it’s recommending a specific provider, medical group or hospital/health system. This is simply because of past provider referrals, how quickly the patient can be seen and post-visit follow-up communication. This results in lack of uniformity and often why patients feel disempowered and disengaged from their care.
Too much responsibility rests with patients
Typically, patients will not bear the responsibility for scheduling their referral appointments, and even if so, specialists often don’t have relevant information about the patient’s needs. There is lack of a digital, streamlined way for providers to communicate with each other before and after the visit. Implementing an organized, two-way provider communication system can be of value when transferring the patient’s history and clinical needs.
Providers still use low-tech, inefficient processes to send and receive patient referrals
Outdated habits and less-than-streamlined digital tools are major challenges for the patient-referrals process. Although many providers still send referrals via fax, verbal, and paper, providers receiving digital referrals can’t keep up with the volume, those referred patients are just as likely to experience gaps in their care as patients referred through low-tech methods. Finding opportunities to reduce manual tasks and alleviate some of their administrative burden can help close the referral loop.
Opportunities for improving how providers send and receive referrals:
- Create efficient two-way communication: Solid communication between providers and specialists ensures that patients are scheduled for the care they need, enables the seamless exchange of necessary clinical information and helps close the referral loop.
- Use a tool that consolidates all referral information: Getting all referral data in a single location helps to guarantee that every patient is seen and can speed up scheduling.
Click HERE for the Phreesia white paper.