15 billion faxes are sent out for referrals every year and 50 percent of it never ends up in doctor visits. A referral cycle starts and ends with a general practitioner to ensure referral completion. When the loop is not closed then the referral is incomplete. Following are the reasons for incomplete referrals:
Referrals are made to provide better care for patients. It is their responsibility to meet the specialist to whom they are referred. Consider, if every 1 out of 3 patient referrals doesn’t turn up, there will be a huge loss to hospitals and to the consultant who spends their valuable time on this. In some cases, patients meet the specialist but fail to follow up with their referring physicians which makes them unable to close the referral loop they initiated. An incomplete referral means incomplete medical records.
Physicians who refer a patient to a specialist will send the detailed medical history of the patient which helps the specialist to identify the problem while diagnosing. After treatment, the specialist will send the report back to the physician and the physician will update the EMR. When this process is not completed then the patient record will not be updated. So closing the loop is an essential step because sometimes important details may be missed. If a patient wishes to see an outside provider with this incomplete record it may lead to medical errors.
Poor Physician Network
In a day, a physician makes a minimum of 10 to 20 referrals. But do you know whether your physician is making a correct referral or not? It is found that over 19 million clinically inappropriate physician referrals occur each year. The reason for a referral mistake is lack of secure and reliable communication channels between practices. Physicians should be more aware of their referral habits which will be useful in monitoring the problems in their workflow.
More than 65 percent of the physicians lack information about the specialists. Some physicians don’t even know that they have a specialist within their network and they refer their patient to outside providers resulting in losing their valuable patients which are called as referral leakage.
Relationship and networking are important in making correct referrals which helps to build trust and reduce leakage. Relationships and expertise will always help to provide excellent care.
No Improvement in Technology
Most of the hospitals still follow the paper-based method in their practice. To increase the revenue, hospitals should adapt to latest technologies. With technology, it is easy to overcome the above two problems.
Most of the follow-ups don’t happen because patients have forgotten about the scheduled meeting or they do not have time to meet the specialist. This problem can be solved by sending reminders about appointments and allowing them to fix their own appointments. Similarly, updating the specialist list will help physicians to identify the specialist availability and they can perform correct referrals.
It is not only technology and hospital processes that change time to time, but also patient’s mind changes due to external influences. Maintaining a correct patient record is important to give right treatment.
HealthviewX Referral Management Solution is an end-to-end referral workflow management platform which will keep PCPs in the referral loop and specialists can access all the necessary information they may require.