“That’s the way we’ve always done it…” If you’ve said (or thought) that about your referral process it could be time to rethink referrals using technology.
Perhaps you have relied on standard referral methods.
- Paper forms
- Direct messages
- Direct walk-ins
These and more fall into the “…always done it that way” category.
The problems with standard referral routines
The first issue could be the patient. They could be an inbound referral to your office or perhaps you’re referring them to another colleague or specialist.
Either way it’s a relationship worth protecting.
Patients and referring providers mean well but there’s a risk of the ball-being-dropped.
- The referring doctor trusts the patient to follow-through
- The patient intends to follow-through but…well, you know, life happens.
Each reflect a missed opportunity.
Next, is the issue with the referral medium. Paper has been the standard for decades. But printed referral slips are easily undelivered, lost, or misplaced leading to a delayed or missed treatment.
Even some technology based referral protocols can be ineffective. For example, a well-intentioned emailed referral could be spammed or “lost” in a patient’s or provider’s inbox.
A reboot for referral technology
A software based platform can give you an advantage for managing referrals.
- Paperless solutions means there are no forms, slips, or other papers to lose.
- Patient tracking gives you insight into the patient’s status on treatment follow-up and follow-through.
- Virtual visit capability provides improved communication for you and your patient, you and a specialist, and/or your patient and referred specialist.
- Professional connection via technology reduces litigation risk caused by miscommunication, etc.
- Patients stay informed through an available virtual connection and a dedicated teledentistry platform.
- Most tech-based communication is secure and HIPAA compliant.
- Your team and a specialist’s team can collaborate virtually.
These tech-advantages represent what’s possible through dedicated software and related platforms. Referrals are less likely to fall off-the-map and patients get the well-timed care they need.
Look to teledentistry technology to help close the referral gap
Trust is supreme in the referral relationship. Your patients trust you. Other referring providers trust you.
And you trust those you refer to.
But, as mentioned, that trust can be compromised when gaps exist between any of the above mentioned relationships. Worse, treatment is delayed or missed due to lack of follow-through, poor or lacking communication, and/or undelivered or lost referral information.
Missed treatment can, of course, lead to more serious consequences for the patient. And there’s the potential for unfortunate legal issues.
Communication seems to be the common culprit. And teledentistry provides a referral technology solution to help.
Here’s a practical workflow for teledentistry when you’re using it as a referral technology:
Think of the patient referral connection as you would a concierge service. Teledentistry enhances the conversation.
- A patient and specialist/team can experience a warm (virtual) introduction
- Treatment related conversations can happen subsequently along the treatment journey
- You/your team can communicate with the specialist’s team all the necessary details for diagnostic purposes or otherwise.
- Necessary patient information (e.g. images, health information, etc) can be securely exchanged via the virtual platform.
The treatment consultation
Because there’s been an introduction your patient and specialist can now more comfortably enter their virtual consultation. The patient feels at ease and there’s already a rapport.
This consultation can take place (virtually) in office. With treatment details covered the referred patient can depart having scheduled their specialist appointment.
The important factor is that you, the patient, and the specialist are on the same page. It’s the result of the introduction and consultation being conducted virtually via the teledentistry platform.
You can communicate with the specialist post-treatment. Any necessary follow-up details and next steps could be covered. The same follow-up and review can be conducted virtually with your patient.
Each scenario values the essential treatment communication process. And the built-in convenience of teledentistry as a referral technology creates a good, seamless treatment experience for patient and specialist.
Using teledentistry as a go-to referral technology closes the gaps that could otherwise negatively impact the treatment process.
- Case acceptance could improve
- Patient retention, patient satisfaction, and the patient experience rises
- Team energy is preserved for you and the referral specialist
- Patient data and all essential clinical data is shared securely and efficiently
A dedicated teledentistry platform provides the best environment for the referral relationship.
Access the following resources for more in-depth insights into how teledentistry (specifically) is improving care standards and creates a comprehensive referral technology solution:
Referrals and Peer-To-Peer Collaboration Using Teledentistry
Improve Continuity of Care and Care Coordination Using Teledentistry
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