Improving Patient Satisfaction with a New Referral Management Process

Improving Patient Satisfaction with a New Referral Management Process


Fragmented communication causes delays in appointments and negatively impacts patient satisfaction

Triad HealthCare Network (THN) is a physician-led accountable care organization (ACO) spanning more than 900 practitioners in central North Carolina. Members use almost 60 different EHRs, which created system-wide communication challenges. Faxing had become the default for transmitting referrals and patient information across practices.

A survey showed this faxed-based approach was creating workflow issues. Nearly 70% of THN primary care providers said they were sending patient histories or the reason for the consult with their referrals. But only about a third of specialists said they received the information primary care providers sent.

This disjointed information flow also was impacting patient satisfaction. Surveys showed patients rated THN physicians highly as care providers but gave them low marks for timely care and for ease of getting specialty appointments – two factors  that might drive them elsewhere for their healthcare needs. In addition, under the proposed Direct Contracting Model (DCM) patient satisfaction will become a much bigger driver of an ACOs’ quality score.

Sharing information and managing referrals online with PH Exchange

Delivering Seamless Access to Information- To solve its workflow challenges, THN adopted cloud-based PH Exchange, a referral management solution, designed by Proficient Health. The new solution serves as an EHR companion that bridges the EHR divide. Both clinical and administrative information can be easily shared, imported or exported to a practice’s EHR platform.

With PH Exchange, member practices create, manage and track referrals online. They can upload and share patient information – including images, voice files and entire patient records -easily and with full HIPAA compliance. The information needed to support care delivery is always just a click away – not buried in in incompatible systems, fax or paper files.

Importantly, there is no need for time-consuming phone tag to chase missing signatures, notes or appointment times. Built-in messaging is used to ask questions and to gather any missing details.

Tracking ACO-wide Standards Compliance-

As they launched their new PH Exchange referral management solution, THN practitioners made several joint commitments. They collectively agreed:

  • On a single, systemwide referral form

  • On the types of notes and data required to support each referral request

  • That appointments would be set and communicated to patients within 72 hours

  • That consult reports would be shared within 48 hours of a patient visit

PH Exchange makes it easy to meet these commitments and to track performance. A THN-specific, online referral form requires certain information to be entered or attached before a referral is transmitted. Specialty practices use an online dashboard to schedule incoming referrals, monitor response times, and communicate case notes back to referring providers.  Built-in analytics are used to

  • Analyze commitment performance

  • Monitor trends

  • Uncover important insights at both the ACO and practice level

For example, users can track the volume and source of referrals, referral status, and the duration between various stages of the referral process.

Reduction in scheduling delays, improvement in patient satisfaction and better patient care

Producing Transformative Results- PH Exchange has helped THN produce transformative changes in both care delivery and the patient experience. The ACO has reduced scheduling delays and has improved patient satisfaction. “We now have a seamless, ‘closed loop’ workflow to support prompter and better-coordinated care delivery,” Elissa Langely, COO of THN says. “Everyone benefits, including both our member practices and our patients.”