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In the News: Patient Engagement HIT

The patient referral process in healthcare can be tedious and inefficient. With procedural hoops to jump through and the back and forth of playing phone tag, referrals are often delayed or even missed. Unsurprisingly, this pitfall can cause a negative impact down the line in the patient’s care journey and bog down staff from providing quality patient care. For example, in a given year, when more than 100 million specialist referrals were requested in the ambulatory setting, only half were completed.

One solution to this growing issue is the use of end-to-end, automated patient engagement technology. Recent advancements in this space mean the days of leaning on manual procedures to request and process patient referrals are gone. Plus, consumers don’t want to pick up the phone, either. They’re used to handling daily tasks instantly and digitally, and seek to manage their healthcare in a similar fashion. Because of this, top hospitals and health systems are leveraging the latest technologies to offer patients digital healthcare communication options and give staff members tools to manage referrals in a streamlined, automated fashion.

What does an automated referral process in healthcare look like?

Consider consumer retail interactions: individuals can choose their preferred mode of communication, process actions via text, email or live chat, and receive personalized follow-up. Much of this is done asynchronously. An automated, closed-loop referral process in healthcare is no different.

For example, Froedtert Health & the Medical College of Wisconsin implemented a closed-loop, automated referral management workflow that engaged patients via customized, automated SMS messaging or telephone calls. Froedtert was able to engage approximately 1,800 contacts, turning a multiweek process into a three-day referral-to-appointment workflow. Based on this success, the organization expanded its campaign from just three departments to more than 30 specialties within a matter of weeks.

Put the power back into the hands of the patient

Healthcare organizations can automate the process for patients to schedule their referrals using digitized communication – deploying customized, timely outreach via the patient’s preferred channel when the referral is ready to schedule. They can connect directly with a registrar to set their appointment without waiting on hold or experiencing multiple transfers. Additionally, these workflows can be integrated into the health system’s electronic health record (EHR) and data can be used to keep patients, staff, and clinicians in the loop along the referral closure path. This automated, closed-loop referral management workflow can streamline patient interactions and ultimately improve referral closure rates.

Leveraging patients’ preferred mode of communication with today’s advanced patient engagement technology to automate the referral process in healthcare is a win-win for patients and staff alike.

To learn more about how your organization can revolutionize its referral management process, check out our latest article in Patient Engagement HIT here.