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We’ve said it before: access and intake operations should be a focus for every health system in America right now, and allowing patients to access all parts of a system through an effective referral management process is no small part of an overall access and intake strategy. Referral management matters for patient experience and quality of care, but a great process can also improve patient retention, decrease leakage, and improve the bottom line.

Let’s imagine the ideal situation for a patient. The best referral management process is a closed loop, with the PCP managing the care effort. If the PCP orders an MRI and then gives the patient a referral for a specialist, the results of that MRI can already be seen by a specialist who is in network. The patient does not have to repeat procedures since the patient’s electronic medical record is available to all care providers in the system. Then, regardless of how many specialists the patient sees for different ailments, the PCP will be able to view the entire patient’s care from a high-level, holistic perspective, including the different prescribed medicines the could potentially interfere with one another. Electronic medical records can finally work in the way they were designed. This only benefits the patient and improves the quality of care received. And from the health system’s perspective, reducing leakage improves the bottom line by keeping patients’ business inside the network.

A robust referral management program provides the best clinical and financial outcomes for patients and health systems alike. This makes for a better patient experience, has the opportunity to lower medical and medication errors through improved EMR usage, and finds better healthcare solutions. It’s time to take a closer look at your own referral management system.

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