Specialty Referrals 101: Can It Be Fixed?

Last week, we examined the stakes for each player in the specialty referrals game. The takeaway is obvious – even when it works, the process is inefficient, if not altogether broken.

What would it take to straighten things out?

From our perspective, it can be fixed. But to improve patient access in its current form, we need to address the needs of each stakeholder. In other words, a data-driven platform for referral management and online scheduling built for the patient, provider and plan is essential:

Patient – Allowing patients to self-schedule online at their own conveniencemeans they can book appointments after business hours, are more engaged, and are more likely to attend the appointment. Additionally, online scheduling uniquely succeeds in the mobile era by offering the patient a calendar invite and a way to select a preferred notification reminder on the spot, directly on their mobile device.

Provider – Providing an online interface for the referring provider to book appointments into target providers’ calendars is a massive efficiency gain. Before leaving, the patient knows who their next appointment is with and when. The appointment can only be scheduled in real time when integrated directly into the target provider’s calendar. This allows referring providers to take back control of providing comprehensive care and doesn’t leave it up to the patient alone. Through the platform, providers have the ability to send notes to the receiving specialist and track attendance and outcome of the visit.

Plan – In addition to helping providers and patients solve the issues mentioned above, a plan must provide comprehensive service across the continuum of care. Each referring provider is able to search across system providers and quickly schedule the patient with the right provider, with the earliest availability. Not only does this increase efficiency, but it also adds the tremendous benefit of eliminating outward migration. As plans focus on trust and loyalty of their brand, a white-labeled solution with a consistent look and feel offers a superior patient experience. Lastly, plans with the ability to monitor referral behavior at the network level, can optimize and drive real behavioral change.

To learn how an emphasis on convenience drives the type of change needed for better patient access, read our free report on Fixing Referral Management.