Curing Referral Management Pain Across Texas
“We receive 50-100 referrals on a daily basis, and we manage them all in LeadingReach.”
Myra Sanchez, Office Manager
- 13 providers
- 12 locations
- Comprehensive Pain Management Care
About Texas Pain Physicians
Texas Pain Physicians mission is to be the leader in patient care in the field of pain management in the state of Texas. Their acclaimed and dedicated staff study each and every patient to understand the nature of the pain to provide the care.
When a growing medical specialty practice has multiple locations and high volume, referral management can get overwhelming quickly. Moreover, that overwhelm can also impact the practice’s customer service and marketing.
This was the situation facing Texas Pain Physicians (TPP) before it found LeadingReach. TPP started with a single pain management clinic in 2009. It has now grown to 13 providers and several nurse practitioners at 12 locations, all providing comprehensive pain management care for acute and chronic pain patients in the Dallas, Houston and surrounding areas.
The practice’s fast growth and success created problems with managing the high volume of referrals. “We receive 50-100 referrals on a daily basis, and we manage them all in LeadingReach” says Myra Sanchez, the office manager at TPP’s corporate offices in Dallas.
Before implementing LeadingReach, TPP used a Google Sheets spreadsheet to centrally manage incoming referrals. “We would input the name of the patient who called in, their phone number, and which doctor they wanted to schedule,” says Sanchez. Unfortunately, the spreadsheet was unwieldy and prone to malfunctions. “It could take 10 minutes to load. Then it might freeze up. We couldn’t share notes. It was just too hard to keep up with the workload.”
Sanchez also found the spreadsheet lacking in terms of visibility and reporting. “It was hard to pull reports, to see how many patients were being referred by each provider. It was hard to update our notes to reflect why a patient canceled or was not scheduled. It was too much to track on a spreadsheet.”
“I couldn’t see how many referrals were scheduled,” continues Sanchez, “or how many declined due to insurance issues or the location being too far away. Sure, we could see how many referrals were coming in. But beyond that, we couldn’t pull any reports to help us see how to market or get more referrals scheduled.”
TPP’s system also presented the ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ problem. “There were too many users for a spreadsheet that could be easily changed. I still remember the day someone accidentally deleted 100 accounts! We all just looked at each other wondering how that happened. It was a lot of work to reconstruct that info.”
The spreadsheet process also impacted TPP’s customer service for referred patients. On occasion, a referred patient would not be entered on the spreadsheet before they called TPP to schedule an appointment. “When a referred patient calls in, they expect us to have their information,” says Sanchez. “When we don’t, it makes us look disorganized.”
Training, coaching and troubleshooting were also more difficult. When Sanchez was notified of an issue with any specific referral, it was a lot of work to diagnose the problem. “I would dive into the spreadsheet blindly and start from scratch. I’d have to figure out who first called the patient, who first added the patient to the chart, and so on. A lot of steps to find out where it went wrong.”
Sanchez says end-of-the-month assessments were difficult when the referral team tried to calculate the referral-to-appointment ratio (RTA). “We had to go down the spreadsheet and count the ones that were scheduled, count the ones that declined, and so on. It was hard to figure out.”
“I couldn’t see how many referrals were scheduled,” continues Sanchez, “or how many declined due to insurance issues or the location being too far away.”
The referral spreadsheet was also causing headaches for the marketing team, since they used referral tracking to help direct their marketing efforts. So Sanchez and the marketing manager searched for a solution. When they found LeadingReach through an internet search, Sanchez recalled that she had used LeadingReach when a referring office was on the system for a 30-day trial period, and she’d loved it. This led to TPP implementing LeadingReach for referral management in July 2016.
With LeadingReach in place, TPP’s referral department now logs all incoming faxed referrals into the platform. “We add the patient information, referring provider, location and provider where they are being referred, and the reasons for the referral. It’s a 1-2-3-and-done process that takes less than 30 seconds. It’s super simple.”
The referral department then contacts the patient for scheduling. In the event the referred patient calls TPP first, TPP’s customer service team can look up their information on LeadingReach. “We already know the situation, so we can help the patient out – guide them to the location, give them an appointment, let them know what to bring, and so on.” The customer service team can then update the referral status on LeadingReach.
After the referral is logged in, TPP’s insurance team will also check the referral on the LeadingReach platform. “The insurance department makes sure the insurance is verified,” explains Sanchez, “that the patient can see the provider, that their services will be covered, and the co-pay amount.”
LeadingReach allows users to place different types of tags on referrals, which Sanchez says is very helpful in allowing TPP’s teams to collaborate. “If the customer service team places an ‘insurance verification’ tag on the referral, the insurance department will go through those tags and focus on those patients. Or they might tag that the patient wants to know their co-pay amount before the appointment, and the insurance department will call them to provide that information. The medical records department can tag referrals if medical records are required for that patient. Everybody stays informed.”
“We add the patient information, referring provider, location and provider where they are being referred, and the reasons for the referral. It’s a 1-2-3-and-done process that takes less than 30 seconds. It’s super simple.”
The Solution for Marketing
The positive experience of the other departments eventually led TPP’s marketing team to also adopt LeadingReach.
The team had previously used a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track meetings and tasks.
“The goal of moving marketing to LeadingReach was to have one user-friendly system to handle everything,” says Rhonda Gibbs, Marketing Administrator at TPP. When Gibbs started in her role, the marketing team had already been using LeadingReach to some extent. “We had always used LeadingReach to see incoming referrals,” says Gibbs, “which helped us do target marketing to referring providers.”
After implementing OutReach, the 6-member marketing team used the LeadingReach platform for internal communications. The team also used LeadingReach to determine how to approach referring offices. “We can see how many in-network referrals we’re getting from a provider’s office,” explains Gibbs. “So we can say ‘Dr. So-and-so, I see you’ve sent us X amount of referrals, but last year you sent us more. Is there anything you need from us?’ It’s an educational piece we can use for our meetings and follow-ups.”
“We had always used LeadingReach to see incoming referrals, which helped us do target marketing to referring providers.”
LeadingReach enabled TPP to focus on its referral-to-appointment ratio and do everything possible to maximize that number. “Our goal is to have an RTA of at least 80%,” says Sanchez. “And now the referral team leader can go into LeadingReach and just view the RTA on the dashboard. No more manually typing numbers in and calculating yourself.”
The platform allows TPP to strategize its RTA maximization. “We can see the reasons for declined appointments,” says Sanchez. “If there is insurance that many patients have and we don’t accept, maybe we should be contracted with that insurance provider. Maybe we need a new location where a lot of referrals are coming from.”
LeadingReach also helps Sanchez provide rewards and motivation to her teams. “I can see how excited they are to reach 80% RTA. ‘Guys, we’re at 73%. Let’s call this patient one more time. Or send them a text message.’ And then I can reward them with pizza parties or other incentives.”
I’m able to audit and troubleshoot faster,” continues Sanchez. “I can look up a patient, ensure they were scheduled correctly, that the insurance benefits were done correctly, that the patient was informed what to bring to the appointment. As a manager, it helps me know every department is doing what they need to do. That they’re adding the correct tags and information. If they’re not, I can see which staff member made the mistake and coach them.”
Referring providers who are on the LeadingReach platform can use it to stay informed. “If a referring office wants to know if we received a referral,” says Sanchez, “they can look on LeadingReach and see everything that happened with it. Did it get scheduled, did it not, etc.”
Rhonda Gibbs is also seeing great benefits from LeadingReach for the marketing team. “With the LeadingReach reporting,” says Gibbs, “we can see which doctors are sending referrals and whether there has been a decline from any particular office. Then we can follow up with a meeting and try to get things back on track.”
In addition, Gibbs appreciates how LeadingReach facilitates communications, not just internally, but with referring offices. In fact, the marketing team actively seeks to grow TPP’s LeadingReach network. “My team will ask the doctor’s offices if they are on LeadingReach. If not, they will invite them to join.”
Sanchez summarizes why she would recommend LeadingReach to other busy practices. “You can use LeadingReach to communicate within departments, get organized, and understand exactly how you are doing with scheduling referrals. The notes, tags and reports help so much. If you that’s what you want, I would say go with LeadingReach.”
“Our goal is to have an RTA of at least 80%,” says Sanchez. “And now the referral team leader can go into LeadingReach and just view the RTA on the dashboard. No more manually typing numbers in and calculating yourself.”