Monday, June 17, 2013

Doctor to Doctor referrals; the most important factor

When referring to a specialist, what factors are most important to the Primary Care Physician(PCP)?
1) Quality: Of course, PCPs expect the work performed by a specialist to be performed at the highest quality. However, no matter how experienced the specialist may be, occasionally procedures provided by the specialist will be unsuccessful. PCPs trust the specialist they are referring to and will accept the failed procedure better if there is communication from the specialist; explaining what possibly went wrong. There is nothing worse than finding out about a failed treatment from the patient. Failure to communicate during these critical moments is frustrating to the patient and especially to the PCP. If you don't talk about it with the PCP, the patient's perspective will be the only opinion heard. This results in a lack of trust from the PCP. 2) Bedside Manner: Because specialists do not see each patient on an on-going basis, there tends to be less effort in providing a great bedside manner. When a patient returns to their PCP and indicates that the specialist treated them poorly, obviously, the PCP is less likely to refer. Often, a lack of competition (no other specialist in town) results in a lack of caring by the specialist. However, the specialist should not expect to forever be the only gig in town. If the specialist cares about PCP and the referrals coming in, he/she should make sure to take time with the patients and treat them properly. 3) Communication: Quality of Care and Bedside Manner are very important to PCPs. However, Communication is the most important factor. This is illustrated by the statistic showing that the #1 reason for a PCP to stop referring to a specialist is because of lack of communication by the specialist. Did the patient schedule an appointment? How did the appointment and procedure go? What follow-up care will the PCP need to provide? Prompt returning of the patient to the PCP. Communication is difficult because of the following reasons. 1) Doctors are busy. It is tough finding a time when both doctors happen to be able to talk on the phone. 2) Sharing documents that help explain what happened and how to provide proper followup care cannot be shared over regular email, (Non-Hippa compliant). 3) Faxed papers need to be re-scanned back into electronic form. (All medical offices need to be paperless by 2014) Referral.IM, solves all of these problems. Communication among PCPs and specialists has never been easier and more effective. Dr. Robert L. Barrick DDS

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