The referral gap affects patients and practices throughout the healthcare industry, and it results in billions of dollars in wasted healthcare spending. In 2011 alone, that number might have been as high as $45 billion, according to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine.
One major way that the referral gap plays out in the real world is that while eighty percent of specialists say that they send consultation results to primary care providers, only about 62 percent of those PCPs say that they receive that information.
Does that sound familiar? That’s because it’s an incredibly widespread problem. If you’re ready to address the gap in your practice, we’ve found the two main areas where your referrals are probably getting lost in transmission.
One important way to begin closing the referral gap is to develop efficient workflows.
So, how can you plan the best course of action? In order to improve your communication systems, you need to find the weak points in your existing procedures. Start by taking a close look at your workflows to find where the biggest fallout happens.
Whether you need to make small changes or overhaul all of your procedures, it’s best to look at your workflows as a whole system. That way, you won’t be just putting out fires as they pop up.
And as you review your workflows, it could be a good time to consider any investments that will help bridge those communication gaps.
You need a good system in place to reduce referral gaps, and technology can either be your best friend, or it can sabotage your success.
That’s because poorly considered technology solutions can add stress and confusion – and we’ve all experienced those kinds of tech nightmares. But the best tech solutions create their own efficient systems.
The referral gap is one of the first problems that we set out to solve at Luma Health. Luma can help convert 91% of referrals, as we did a Quality Care Sleep (QCS) near Austin, Texas. Last year, we spoke with Michelle Kidd, the QCS operations director, and here’s what she had to say:
Rather than a patient receiving a phone call at an inconvenient time, patients receive a text message and are able to respond at their own convenience. With the automated referral texts, my staff can now spend more time providing care for the patients who are ready to receive care. It’s freed up at least two hours of their day! It has been a huge asset and has helped us capture more referrals than ever before.
Michelle’s experience with Luma shows how solid tech takes away the guesswork and busywork so your team can focus on care. And we also know that better referral technology can help patient outcomes, reducing the risk for readmissions into hospitals and emergency rooms.
Incomplete referrals can be costly for your practice and dangerous for your patients. To reduce your rate of incomplete referrals, the key is to work out a strong system with the right technology.