Bringing referral harmony to the Music City with Nashville Skin and LeadingReach
“LeadingReach allowed us to build a protocol around referrals. From an operational standpoint, it increased our efficiency and ability to track referrals across all our locations”
Jason Seeman, Operations Manager
- 14 Providers
- 5 Locations
- Founded in 2005
About Nashville Skin
Nashville Skin is the premier dermatology practice in Nashville, Tennessee, serving the area with 14 providers, 5 locations, and a mobile surgery center. Founded in 2005, the practice includes several physicians who are nationally renowned in the dermatology field.
Busy healthcare offices can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand when a provider’s schedule is full patients are being seen, payments are collected, and time moves quickly. On the other hand, sometimes being “busy” seems like a nice way to say “it’s chaotic and we’re getting by as best we can.” When busy and efficiency mix together a certain “flow” can be achieved where everything is under control and experiences are pleasant and frequent. However if inefficiency rears its ugly head being busy can feel quite different.
This was the situation at Nashville Skin, a dermatology practice that has been serving the Nashville, Tennessee area since 2005. With 14 physicians and 7 locations, Nashville Skin provides general dermatology services, in addition to cosmetic procedures at its laser and aesthetics center and skin cancer removals at a mobile surgery center.
When Jason Seeman joined Nashville Skin in 2018 as the Operations Manager, he saw a rapidly expanding practice with a stellar reputation that still had room for improvement with their scheduling process and patient experience. “At Nashville Skin, all of our physicians are amazing, and the 5 partner owners are nationally renowned in dermatology,” says Seeman. “So their schedules were full and they were happy.” Still, Seeman saw ways that the practice could do even better with more effective referral processing.
Prior to LeadingReach, Nashville Skin managed its referrals through its electronic medical record (EMR) system. The referral processing was fairly bare-bones when Seeman started. “When I started at Nashville Skin, the two biggest challenges on patient scheduling were that (1) we didn’t have enough people to answer the phone, so patients were calling us back, reaching voicemail, and not leaving messages, and (2) we didn’t have a solid referral process as far as following up and getting patients scheduled,” says Seeman.
“We didn’t even have medical schedulers,” Seeman continues. “So our front desk assistants would come across these referrals for consultations and they would try to reach the patient one time. Hopefully, fingers crossed, they would call us back. If not, that was it.”
According to Seeman, this one-call referral system was completely lacking in any follow-up or accountability. “We would have a chart in the EMR, and a pop-up note would come up. ‘Referral from Dr. Beck’s office on this date. Left voicemail.’ It was that basic, and then it was forgotten. And there was no responsibility or accountability for the employee to follow through. We weren’t using a spreadsheet of referrals or any kind of central referral database.”
This resulted in a fairly low proportion of referrals that were actually scheduled. “I would say it was a 30% scheduling rate on a one-phone call referral, at best,” Seeman says. “We were missing out on thousands and thousands of dollars in patients, because we weren’t following up with referrals to continue to grow the practice. We were really missing opportunities with these patients by only calling them once.”
Another aspect of this limited referral process was the burden and inefficiency for each Nashville Skin office. “Say you’re in a really busy clinic and another practice calls and wants to know if 5 of their patients have been scheduled,” says Seeman. “That takes a lot of time out of the day.”
Seeman says Nashville Skin’s pre-LeadingReach problems with referrals can be summed up in a few areas. “Missed opportunities with patients. Poor time management. We weren’t being as efficient as possible when dealing with other providers on getting referrals or scheduling referrals. From the monetary standpoint, we were losing patient volume.”
The situation led to Nashville Skin looking for a referral solution. “We were looking for something that would make the referrals trackable, so we could contact the patient a second and third time,” says Seeman. “We also wanted custom statuses for each referral, so everyone in the organization would be able to tell where it was in the process. Whether it was scheduled, or if we couldn’t leave a message because the voicemail wasn’t set up, or if we didn’t take their insurance, the patient just declined service, whatever the situation was.”
“We were missing out on thousands and thousands of dollars in patients, because we weren’t following up with referrals to continue to grow the practice.”
Nashville Skin was introduced to LeadingReach when a LeadingReach representative reached out to Seeman and offered a free trial. Seeman took LeadingReach up on the offer and was soon impressed with its referral management capabilities. “After we started using it, we could tell we definitely needed this tool.”
Seeman said the value of LeadingReach was apparent in several ways. “I saw the value of being able to track referrals through a multiple-contact process. And from a business-to-business standpoint, it was great that other practices could log onto LeadingReach and see exactly where their patient is in the process.”
Although he looked into other referral management solutions, Seeman was sold on LeadingReach by the fact that the larger healthcare organizations in Nashville were already using the platform. “It was validation. It just made sense to go with a company that these larger organizations were trusting.”
Seeman had to convince the partner owners at Nashville Skin to implement LeadingReach, he says this was not a hard sell. While the practice’s growth was impressive, Seeman’s case was that Nashville Skin was missing out on even more growth by not having a tool to help their referral management become more efficient.
With the LeadingReach implementation, Nashville Skin was able to establish a central call center/medical scheduling department to handle the practice’s high call volume. With 3 employees in charge of patient scheduling, the call center team looks at the LeadingReach platform daily to ensure they are regularly contacting referred patients and referring providers.
Halie Mesler, the call center team lead, can list off her favorite features from the LeadingReach platform. “We have the ability to track the referrals and see how many times we’ve contacted them,” says Mesler. “And on the custom statuses, I like how we can add different statuses based on different interactions with patients. For example, we have a lot of Spanish-speaking clients, so we can note that we need a Spanish speaker to call them to schedule. We can note if we spoke to the patient, if they agreed to call back later, or if they declined service for now.“
“And when practices call to ask if a patient has been scheduled,” continues Mesler, “it’s easy to go on LeadingReach and respond quickly. ‘We’ve contacted them twice, they haven’t called us back, but we can try again today,’ or whatever the case may be.”
“After we started using it, we could tell we definitely needed this tool.”
LeadingReach allowed Nashville Skin to follow up on referrals like never before, finally moving past the archaic one-call referral process. “I’ll log into LeadingReach daily, review referrals, and see the last time a patient has been contacted,” says Mesler. “If it’s been more than two days that they’re on second-call status, I’ll make all the third calls for those patients. We try to contact them 3 times, if necessary, within the first 7-10 days.”
With this enhanced referral tracking and follow-up through LeadingReach, it is little surprise the practice is converting more referrals into scheduled appointments. Nashville Skin’s referral-to- appointment (RTA) ratio has gone up drastically from Seeman’s pre-LeadingReach estimate of 30%, with their RTA recently reaching as high as 86%. “It’s just amazing to be able to show that result to the partners,” says Seeman.
The call center was another key benefit enabled by LeadingReach. Seeman says the practice had long wanted to start such a center, but they were unsure of how to start. Without a tool like LeadingReach, they had few alternatives.
“Our other option was building an Excel spreadsheet to handle the referrals,” says Seeman. “But then you don’t have the flexibility of LeadingReach. You don’t have the ability to run reports quickly. You don’t have communication through one central website where everyone can log in. You don’t have the ability to give all users one central referral database that everyone is working off of. We needed LeadingReach for all of that.”
Seeman also gives high ratings to LeadingReach’s representatives and support team. “When we first started using LeadingReach, we might accidentally lock ourselves out of the system. Literally within 5 minutes, LeadingReach support would have us unlocked and ready to go. And the LeadingReach reps are great, never pushy, they just provide the information and say how it could help you. Most reps are not like that.”
LeadingReach essentially served as the central tool for the referral process Seeman designed. “I built everything around LeadingReach, such as callback times or what our procedures would be,” says Seeman. “It allowed us to build a protocol around referrals. From an operational standpoint, it increased our efficiency and ability to track referrals across all our locations. The platform has been a launching pad for our further growth.”
“LeadingReach allowed us to build a protocol around referrals. From an operational standpoint, it increased our efficiency and ability to track referrals across all our locations.”