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Strong Referral Network Integrity Requires Continuum-Wide Communication and Data Sharing
August 09, 2018

Strong Referral Network Integrity Requires Continuum-Wide Communication and Data Sharing

As healthcare’s largest provider of clinical communication solutions, TigerConnect helps physicians, nurses, and other staff communicate and collaborate more effectively, accelerating productivity, reducing costs, and improving patient outcomes. Trusted by more than 4,000 healthcare organizations, TigerConnect maintains 99.99% uptime and processes over 10 million messages each day. Its category-leading product innovations and advanced integrations with critical hospital systems deliver high value for hospitals and large health systems.
2. Make the connection. The previous statistics show that it is clearly not enough to hand patients a phone number and hope they follow through with scheduling. Organizations need to schedule the appointment for patient, or at the very least, contact the specialist securely and safely through their mobile device and ensure the physician’s front office staff is expecting the patient’s call. Providing the patient’s phone number is helpful so the specialist’s office staff can reach out if they have not heard from the patient within a day or 2.

3. Track and follow up. Research studies revealed another alarming trend in this area: after a referral was made, physicians were often unclear about who would be responsible for which aspects of the patient’s care plan.5 A well-defined process for tracking and following up on referrals will prevent patients from getting lost in the system.

As the physician who receives the referral, he or she can support better continuity of care by sharing data and images from the referral appointment with the originating physicians. For example, a cardiothoracic surgeon takes an intraoperative photo of the patient’s heart and sends it to the referring cardiologist and primary care physician along with notes confirming a diagnosis. This form of collaboration is more efficient and meaningful to the referring physicians than a follow-up phone call or fax that may occur days later. It is also the kind of collegial support that encourages further referral opportunities down the road.

4. Provide effective tools. Today’s most advanced clinical communication and collaboration technology makes it exceedingly simple for physicians to connect in this way with each other directly over a secure mobile platform. Extensive built-in directories enable clinicians to find colleagues by name or by role. Sending a quick text message to a specialist in the presence of the patient not only provides pertinent information for the consult, but also serves to communicate clearly to the patient that this appointment should be a priority.

Communication beyond notification
Ensuring the referred physician or organization is alerted of the incoming referral is important, but beyond just notification, using a clinical communication and collaboration platform delivers patient background and context all efficiently shared through a mobile device. This alleviates the referred-to physician from follow-up steps, such as checking a fax machine or electronic health record for the additional information.

Engaging the referred-to physician early can also involve front-office staff in patient communication and preparation. Mobile communication tools and mobile-driven workflows ensure stronger referral network management, improved continuity of care, and a better patient experience.
 
References:
1. Office of Massachusetts Attorney General. “Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers” June 22, 2011. Accessed July 20, 2018. https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/uy/2011-hcctd-full.pdf.

2. Sviokla J, Schroeder B, Weakland T. “How Behavioral Economics Can Help Cure the Health Care Crisis. Harvard Business Review. March 1, 2010. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://hbr.org/2010/03/how-behavioral-economics-can-h.

3. refferalMD. “30 Healthcare Statistics That Keep Hospital Executives Up At Night.” Blog. August 30, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://getreferralmd.com/2016/08/30-healthcare-statistics-keep-hospital-executives-night/.

4. Song Z, Sequist TD, Barnett ML. “Patient Referrals—a Linchpin for Accountable Care.” Journal of the American Medical Association. August 13, 2014. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1886863.

5. Mehrotra A, Forrest C, Yin C. “Dropping the Baton: Specialty Referrals in the United States.” The Milbank Quarterly, March 2011. Accessed July 23, 2018.


 
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