The Importance of Patient Referral Management
For healthcare providers, one of the most critical operational processes is referral management. Having an effective process for patient referrals can make all the difference in helping a practice grow and ensuring a positive patient experience.
Referral management systems facilitate communication between patients, healthcare providers, and consultants. They streamline end-to-end referral communication between providers and transfer confidential patient information from one physician to another. Good referral management processes ensure a practice can intake a steady flow of patients, effectively and efficiently, to improve both the clinic’s productivity and the patient’s experience.
However, manual referral processes seldom work as smoothly as they should and are often plagued with challenges due to a lack of coordination between providers, broken referral loops, absent medical information, and overall operational inefficiencies.
Here are 5 Common Challenges of Manual Patient Referral Processes
1. Referral errors
Some of the biggest issues caused by inadequate referral management systems are referral errors, such as a patient being booked for the wrong appointment. If a company’s system is obstructing a referral, it could negatively affect the patient and delay the treatment they require.
2. Lack of Follow-Ups
When specialists don’t provide follow-up reports of patients, it can delay updated information regarding a patient’s condition and increase the likelihood of the patient’s data being lost or misinterpreted.
3. Manual Hand-Offs
One main issue with traditional referral systems is that patients are often handed a physical appointment card and are expected to schedule an appointment themselves. But the truth is, most patients don’t follow through with scheduling an appointment. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, one in three patients don’t follow up with their referrals.1
4. Coordination Issues
Referrals typically include reasoning for the patient’s visit, the service they require, their insurance, and the urgency of their appointment. The amount of time it takes for the primary provider to exchange this patient information with the secondary provider could delay time-sensitive care.
Referrals typically include reasoning for the patient’s visit, the service they require, their insurance, and the urgency of their appointment. The amount of time it takes for the primary provider to exchange this patient information with the secondary provider could delay time-sensitive care. Referrals need to be transferred in a timely manner because without this information, specialty providers have no way of knowing what treatment the patient needs to receive and the urgency in which they need to receive it.
5. Lack of Referral Analytic Features
Tracking patients throughout their medical journey is crucial to providing correct treatment. Without tracking referrals and visits, coordinators can’t monitor what tests were ordered by specialists, when the appointment took place, or even if the patient attended the appointment.
The referral management system is a critical piece of the process to ensure patients receive timely appointments. An inefficient referral management process puts the burden of tracking patient appointments on the front office staff, negatively impacting both staff productivity and the patient experience.
Automated, Cloud-Based Solutions Can Solve These Issues
So with all of these manual referral process obstacles, why do practices stick with their current manual systems? All too often, medical practices fear the process to implement an automated referral management system will be too hard, too time consuming, and require technical expertise they don’t have on staff.
Fortunately, cloud-based solutions that offer digital automation technology can address these obstacles and reduce inefficiencies.
Our partner, Process Fusion, offers an eReferral Management Solution that provides a seamless transition from your manual referral process to an automated, cloud-based solution which dramatically improves the referral process, reduces referral error, and minimizes many of the obstacles commonly feared by medical practices.
This system uses CapturePoint, a highly scalable document workflow platform that captures, classifies and transmits critical data from documents and faxes to the right process workflows.
With eReferral Management, the patient referrals and information are captured through a multitude of sources such as network folders, desktop scanning, fax systems, etc. Referrals are then sent securely via fax, allowing for automatic data capture from the referring physicians to hospitals. CapturePoint utilizes the database to compare document content in order to identify information. In this process, referrals can be consulted, reviewed, assigned, and tracked. The patient data is then delivered to the desired system and the user is able to generate reports of data flow to see real time insights. This eReferral Management Automation allows providers to decrease manual tracking, enhance patient experiences, and deliver more effective healthcare. And, with a full spectrum of services and support, we can make implementation as seamless as possible.
If you would like to read more about SASE, download our document “SASE for the New Enterprise Perimeter.”
To speak to one of our experts about how an eReferral Management System could improve your healthcare efficiency, contact us today.
- Mehrotra, A., Forrest, C. B., & Lin, C. Y. (2011, March). Dropping the baton: Specialty referrals in the United States. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved November 10, 2022