Traditional referral intake systems haven’t changed significantly in the past 30 years. Rather, they are still based on paper and fax referrals that often get lost in the shuffle of busy days and patient care needs. This reliance on old-school methods flies in the face of significant connectivity and communication adoptions that are being successfully leveraged in other industries. Between the barrage of phone calls and faxes flowing between provider offices, provider office administrators struggle to confirm patient information, locate missing labs and medical records, and keep track of inefficient and disruptive back and forth conversations to facilitate quality patient care. With disparate EHRs, scheduling software, and office procedures, provider networks have historically lacked a shared language and a standardized process too easily connect and communicate.
Under this traditional model, even in the best-organized offices, the administrative point person – the patient coordinator – deploys basic spreadsheets or a handwritten sticky note with limited sharing functionality to help make sense of the referral and health data chaos. This type of analog reporting takes hours, and the information and procedures get siloed into that individual patient coordinator’s workflow with no visibility or accountability. As this position is one of high turnover, the knowledge and process efficiency disappears with each resignation. These archaic methods often lead to patients slipping through the cracks and never getting the callbacks needed to close the loop and schedule appointments. While this is a huge issue for patients seeking critical care from providers they are referred to, this also has serious impacts on a full health system’s patient and revenue leakage. Ditching the old school model for streamlined technology can change the paradigm and enhance the care coordination process for both patients and providers.