The system for referring patients is broken and full of problems that can be fixed. The main problem with doctor referrals is that doctors don’t even know they’re making mistakes! To fix the problems with the system, medical staff, patients, and physicians all need a better platform. If your healthcare practice still uses old, one-way communication methods like fax, e-fax, or your EMR to file referrals and not talk to other providers in real-time, it’s time to make a change.
Confronting the issues with patient referral networks is the first step in resolving these issues and making the overall system a more effective platform for medical personnel, patients, and doctors.
Decide on reasonable goals.
From the start, it’s up to the primary care doctor to tell the patient and the specialist what to expect from the referral process. However, many don’t do this, leading to many unanswered questions and frustration. Set the goals of this process with your patient before sending them to a specialist. This will solve the problem. Let the patient ask questions, ensure they understand the process, and THEN send the patient to the doctor.
After setting expectations for this referral, get in touch with the specialist you’ll be working with to let them know what’s going on and how this relationship will continue to develop.
The specialist will get feedback about the patient and the process, which is important and fine. This talk about expectations needs to happen immediately to avoid problems later on.
The primary care doctor and the specialist should talk to each other about how long this process is expected to take, who will be in charge of the patient during the process, what paperwork is needed, how urgent the situation is, how often each professional will talk to the other about the patient’s status, and any other questions that need to be asked to make sure the patient is in good hands and the process goes as quickly as possible.
Don’t leave things to chance.
Many doctor referrals go wrong because questions aren’t asked, and guesses are made about the patient’s condition, tests done, missing paperwork, and other things. This is a huge problem for a referral network because the patient is the one who will quickly see the bad effects of guesswork when it comes to their health.
Too often, doctors send patients to another doctor without the right paperwork, test results, or any other information about the patient. This is very hard to do when a patient has a long medical history and must give each doctor an accurate trail of information about them to prepare.
It is up to the primary care doctor, the specialist, and the physician to ask questions and double-check that all the required info about the patient’s progress is being given to all the necessary parties. Guesswork should never be okay, and it shouldn’t be the patient’s job to keep up with the paperwork and information that needs to be shared. The primary care doctor and the specialist shouldn’t be unable to talk about a patient’s progress because they don’t have access to the right information or don’t understand what the patient needs.
Store all of a patient’s medical history information in a database that everyone can easily access. This will get rid of guesswork at the source. Every update on a patient’s progress should include a quick review of their medical history. By doing this, there will be no misunderstandings about the patient’s progress, and everyone will be on the same page.
Track the Patient’s Progress
If you and the other medical professionals in the referral network don’t understand each other from the start, problems could arise at the expense of the patient. Most of the time, the primary care doctor and the specialist doctor don’t think to clarify every aspect of their relationship when referring a patient, like who will be in charge of the patient’s overall care during the process.
Suppose one doctor tells a patient one thing, and another specialist tells them something else. In that case, this could be very frustrating for the patient during a medical issue or procedure that could already be hard. The patient won’t have a good time with this. To solve this problem, write a referral agreement describing each person’s role in detail.
Many primary care doctors see themselves in charge of a patient’s health. With the patient’s permission, they take advice from a consulting doctor and use it to fit the patient’s needs. Ensure that the role of the person who makes the final decision about medical advice is written down, so there is no confusion, frustration, or wrong information.
Make a referral agreement that says how quickly professionals or specialists must see referred clients, how soon after the visit they must send a report to the referring doctor, and who is in charge of the patient.
Lack of communication is one of the mistakes we’ve already pointed out. In a referral agreement, a doctor often forgets to clarify a certain part of a case or doesn’t think to ask the other doctors what they think, which can be bad for the patient’s health. Making decisions based on guesswork or narrow-mindedness defeats the purpose of a referral network. Each doctor’s different skills and abilities can help patients get better faster, with less pain, and in the long run.
Read, listen, and watch to find a solution to this problem and get the most out of the physician referral network.
When you read the paperwork that other medical professionals have written about a patient, you actively take in as much information about their medical history as possible to help you do your job better. Listen to what the other doctors and patients have to say to get a full picture of this patient’s past and needs. Identify the patient’s needs and the case’s complexity by asking many questions. There is more information available than what could be written down.
Don’t leave the patient hanging.
Sometimes, primary care doctors don’t call in a specialist in time, making a patient’s situation worse or even putting their health at risk. It’s easy for a doctor to decide not to refer a patient because it would be embarrassing. Some doctors don’t want to look like they don’t know what they’re talking about, or they want to keep costs down, but in the long run, this causes long delays for their patients. To make sure that a patient’s care isn’t delayed for no good reason, make a referral agreement that spells out how people will talk to each other, what time frames will be set for each patient depending on their case, who is in charge of the patient’s care from a decision-making point of view, how things will work, and what each party will get out of it.