Streamlining the Referral Process with a Physician Portal
It should go without saying—but is too often overlooked. The easier you make the referral process, the more patients you are likely to have referred. After all, in this age of healthcare reform, almost every medical practice is challenged to make the most of its time, and the specialists who support referrer efficiencies often win big in patient recommendations. And also remember that once patients enter your office, a satisfying patient experience will reflect positively on your gatekeepers, helping them with their own patient retention.
Today, a robust referring physician portal can help you streamline the patient referral and intake process, in addition to supporting timely results distribution for your completed exams. The best portals automate workflow for your staff as well as for referrers, so that offering this extra service with a smile isn’t a drain on anyone’s time.
Here’s what to look for in a high-performance patient portal to help support the referral process:
- Online appointment requests. Enabling your referrers to send appointment requests before their patients leave the office helps ensure compliance with the next steps in care. Naturally, every physician has a vested interest in following through with patients and helping to support a positive outcomes. Immediate online exam ordering also helps lock in your new patient relationships to avoid any shopping around for alternate providers.
- Electronic exam ordering. Online exam ordering is a convenience for both referring physicians and patients and also helps ensure patient follow through. Look for a portal that provides easy access to common procedural codes.
- Insurance verification. To ensure continuity of care, many physicians will want to take the extra steps to refer patients to a practice that accepts their insurance. A good physician portal will offer referrers the opportunity to verify patient coverage before referring them to your practice, saving complications and time for all involved.
- Patient educational material. Providing referrers with a selection of downloadable and printable patient educational materials for common procedures will help your referrers explain upcoming exams and provide reassurance. Materials may be intended to support physician/patient discussion during an appointment or for post-appointment education. Handouts should be written simply and clearly, avoiding medical jargon and focusing on the benefits of the upcoming exam.
- Pre-exam instructions. Likewise, portals can provide pre-exam instructions, such as required fasting and special diets, medication avoidance and tips on comfortable dressing. Again provide these in a clearly written, simply laid out flyer. Supplying these in advance helps streamline the procedure for all involved.
- Practice introduction. Welcome to Our Practice . . . Make patients feel at home and committed to their choice of a specialist. Providing referrers with a short, eye-catching flyer detailing your qualifications, hours and location also will help simplify the exam process and help ensure patients arrive in a timely fashion. Be sure to direct them to your practice website for additional information.
- Web Chat. A web chat feature is particularly convenient when referring practice staff is using your portal so that any questions can be answered expediently.
Make sure to format all patient education material as standard PDF documents compatible with most office printers. Test all files to ensure they seamlessly download, print and look great.
Keep in mind that all these offerings mean nothing if your referrer’s office staff is not familiar with your portal and how to use it. Once your portal is up and running, have your marketing representative stop by and provide a brief demonstration—perhaps along with a basket of edible goodies. Remember many people find new technology is exciting, medical personnel included. So impress staff with your commitment to leveraging the best new high tech developments at every level, and make sure they are on your team.