How Effective Referral Management Minimizes Patient Leakage

April 13, 2021 - by WELL Staff

As many as 50 percent of patient referrals are never completed.

Sometimes it’s due to a communication breakdown between doctors and patients. Sometimes patients simply forget to schedule or keep a referral appointment. This is where a good referral management process becomes crucial.

When patient referrals are mismanaged, patients don’t get the care they need. Many times, they are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital, which is bad news for healthcare systems who want to find ways of preventing hospital readmissions. Patients who miss their appointments because of ineffective patient referral processes suffer poorer health outcomes than patients who actually attend their appointments.

When referrals aren’t completed, hospitals suffer what is known as patient or referral leakage. For almost half of health systems, patient leakage results in more than 10 percent of annual revenue losses. Moreover, incomplete patient referrals mean slots go unused. Analysts predict that by the year 2023, there will be a shortage of more than 65,000 specialists. Leaving unused time in their day wastes valuable resources.

A sophisticated, patient-centric referral management system addresses all these issues by simplifying provider-patient communication and streamlining the referral workflow.

WELL™ Referrals Management improves the patient referral process, cuts down missed appointments, and reduces patient leakage. WELL Referrals Management also massively contributes to preventing hospital readmission by ensuring patients get the care and medical expertise they need right after hospitalization. The WELL platform helps office staff to schedule appointments and helps patients to keep them. Coupled with WELL’s powerful automation engine and appointment reminders, this creates a concierge patient experience.

Improving the patient referral process

WELL™ created the new Referral Management system to automate the referral workflow process. Here’s how it works:

  • After a provider places a referral order in the EHR, the patient receives an invitation to book an appointment. WELL sends it through the patient’s desired communication method (text, phone, or email) from the referred specialist.
  • If a patient responds yes, the specialists’ office can continue the conversation via text, call, or email to set up the appointment.
  • If a patient gives a no response, the message can be repeated. This is where WELL’s powerful automation engine really shines. You can configure messaging to be sent out at custom intervals depending on the needs of your practice.
  • As few as five percent of patients actually respond no. But if they say no or don’t respond to the final message, WELL will send their response back to the EMR, closing the referral. From there, staff can personally reach out to the patient to schedule the appointment.

Powerful automation engine

After patients schedule their appointment, the WELL Referral Management system sends automated appointment reminders at custom intervals. The value of completely configurable messaging cannot be overstated. It’s very easy for staff to keep patients engaged in their care or encourage them to show up for their appointment. There are no batch uploads. There is no waiting for your patient communication vendor to answer your support ticket. Best of all, missed appointments are drastically reduced.

Additionally, because the WELL patient referral management system offers conversational texting, patients can respond with questions. Chatbots answer common questions such as “Where are you located?”. When patients have more in-depth questions, staff can easily enter the conversation as needed.

Benefits of improved patient referral workflow

WELL Referrals Management can reduce staff workload significantly. Staff typically spend countless hours on the phone trying to reach patients to schedule their referral appointments, sometimes calling multiple times for a single patient referral. WELL’s patient referral management system eliminates these calls, freeing staff time that can be channeled to other pressing priorities.

WELL messages have a 99.9 percent delivery rate and are never delayed by a patient not picking up the phone or being on vacation. Even when patients miss a call, providers use WELL to reach out multiple times to ensure that the patient gets the message. This improved consistency makes your referral workflow even more effective.

Missed appointments are a huge problem for providers. WELL’s appointment reminders have the potential to reduce no-shows by more than 50 percent. For example, Mountain View Medical Center in Oregon reduced no-shows by 54 percent after implementing WELL Referrals Management. Eisenhower Health in Southern California saw similar reductions in no-shows.

Automating the initial outreach allows your staff to focus on the most critical patients and quickly close referrals that don’t require followup. WELL Referrals Management helps stop referral leakage and frees up your providers and staff to do what they do best — care for patients.

Read more in our Guide to Reducing Patient No-Show Rates and discover how improving communications reliably streamlines operations.

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