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April 26, 2019

How Technology Can Help Improve Follow Up’s After Referrals

Historically, primary care physicians (PCPs) were considered to be general practitioners providing a broad array of healthcare services. Today, many of these services are now referred to specialists. Interestingly, specialists now outnumber PCPs four to one, and the likelihood that a patient will be referred to a specialist has doubled in the past 10 years.

For patients with multiple chronic conditions, it’s not uncommon to have multiple care providers. After an appointment, a patient may be referred to a cardiologist or a pain management provider for additional screenings or treatments. However, this is where healthcare gets fragmented and can result in serious errors.

Without streamlined communication between all parties and the patient, both the quality of care and the overall patient experience can suffer. As such, providers need solutions that enable them to communicate securely and efficiently with one another in order to share critical patient information between practices.

For providers working with additional care teams, considering implementing the following provider-to-provider and patient engagement technology in order to improve follow-ups after a referral:

  1. Direct Secure Messaging - The foundation of care coordination is having the ability to communicate among the care teams throughout the continuum. All providers need the ability to share patient care information in a secure environment. Direct Secure Messaging between providers lessens the likelihood of dangerous errors in care and duplication of tests and procedures through HIPAA-compliant sharing of lab results, images, care plans, and prescribed medications among all caregivers.
  2. Appointment Reminders – Twenty-three percent of patients fail to show up for their appointments unless proactively reminded. When patients don’t show up, they may miss important screenings, preventative care, or timely treatments. Automated reminders relieve staff of time-consuming phone calls and enable them to reallocate that time for more impactful tasks. Self-scheduling tools provide another way to reduce missed appointments and improve patient engagement, as these tools enable patients to schedule, confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments 24/7.
  3. Secure Text Messaging - When patients engage more often with caregivers, patients are more likely to take a proactive role in their own healthcare. Promoting wellness requires providers to engage with patients before they get sick. For example, with secure text messaging technology, providers can send timely notifications about wellness clinics, vaccine reminders, and sports check-up availability. Better yet, messages can be segmented and sent to all appropriate patients based on condition-specific variables and make the provider-patient relationship more collaborative.
  4. Payment Tools - With the proliferation of high-deductible health plans, patients are responsible for a growing portion of their own healthcare costs. With deductible amounts skyrocketing, patients may feel the need to delay care as long as possible or put it off all together, which can lead to life-threatening complications. Providers can help mitigate delay in care by offering online tools with multiple payment options, including the ability for patients to set up flexible payment arrangements that are more manageable with their budget. In doing so, patient payment tools can remove unnecessary obstacles to care and encourage ongoing engagement.

At Updox, our collaboration platform enables providers to easily communicate with one another before, during and after referrals. Connect with a member of our team today to learn more.

Topics: care coordination, Physicians, Blog, communication, engagement