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How to Improve Your Patient Referral Process for More Efficient Care

Abby Nieten
August 1, 2017
Min Read

If you work in the healthcare industry, it’s probably no surprise to you that only 50% of patient referrals result in a completed appointment. Why is this? Most patient referral systems are highly flawed, making use of antiquated tools like fax machines, which block proper communication and leave patients in limbo.This is bad news if you’re a healthcare facility that relies heavily on referrals—and many do since most insurance companies require referrals for specialist treatment to ensure the treatment is correct and necessary. Luckily, there is a positive step you can take if you’re considering how to get patient referrals that actually schedule and keep an appointment. Creating an online patient referral system will eliminate clunky paperwork and streamline the patient referral process for primary care physicians.

Case in point: Indiana Health Group created a simple online referral form that allows providers to make a patient referral in under a minute. Giving other local providers access to your online referral form via a simple URL or QR code will keep your practice top-of-mind and make it easy for providers to refer patients to your clinicians.Even better? Patients will receive efficient, quality care due to an easily accessible referral system that allows primary care providers to supply specialists with more complete patient information.

Ease of Access

A whopping 92% of providers say they could improve their referral management practices. And it’s true. Many physicians make dozens of patient referrals each week, but they do so by sending a brief fax or supplying patients with a business card, setting everyone up for failure.To empower referring providers and create a smoother referral process, ease of access must be a priority. Creating an online referral form makes it easier for providers to submit referrals. In Indiana Health Group’s case, using an electronic referral form has allowed healthcare providers to make a patient referral from the bedside in as little as 30–45 seconds.Using an accessible form gets the ball rolling in the right direction so that more patients follow through with specialist appointments. These forms can even be set up with automated notifications that alert referred providers of new referrals in real-time, giving them the opportunity to quickly follow up with patients.

Form Template for Patient Referrals

Complete Information

Roughly 68% of healthcare specialists say they receive no information from primary care providers ahead of referral visits. This is a big problem. Without the proper information, specialists cannot understand a patient’s needs, which means the appointment will not be productive.Luckily, using an online patient referral form can solve this problem in a hurry. Online forms can be built to include any number of fields, such as patient name and date of birth, patient contact information, referrer contact information, and reason for referral. These fields can be set as required, meaning the form cannot be submitted until all necessary information has been completed.Supplying specialists with complete information ensures they can provide the best possible care to patients. This not only gives providers a better understanding of a patient’s medical need, but is also allows them to spend time preparing for the appointment so it can be productive.

Are you ready to improve your patient referral process? Sign up for a free trial of Formstack to see how our HIPAA compliant online forms can work for you.


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Abby Nieten
As Senior Manager, Content Strategy, Abby leads an amazing team of marketing content creators toward a shared content vision. She's been growing with Formstack since 2015 and spent several years as a professional editor before that.
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