With Covid-19 and an increasing geriatric population, the competition and demand for diagnostic imaging continue to rise. The year-over-year growth rate for 2022 alone is expected to be 5.4%.
This surge means outpatient imaging centers need to prepare themselves for an uptick in patient volume and ease the way referrals are received and processed. While many imaging centers rely on their legacy systems to support referrals, they are often disjoined and inefficient. This can quickly lead to patients being referred to the competition. That’s why it’s crucial that imaging centers make the process for referring providers as seamless as possible. The need for an efficient referring physician portal has never been more important.
Your Go-to Referring Physician Ordering Guide
Most imaging centers receive the majority of their referrals from primary care providers and specialty groups such as orthopedics, surgeons, oncologists, and neurologists. In addition, most referral orders are sent via fax or eFax which can be extremely cumbersome and labor intensive. This begs the question, is your referral intake workflow as efficient as it could be?
Let’s take a look at the referral workflow basics to get started. You’ll need to use your referral workflow while:
- Setting up appointments. Once a physician contacts your office to start the scheduling process, your team may end up being responsible for all aspects of coordination of the appointment, including verifying eligibility and authorization of the patient’s insurance.
- Ensuring accessibility. Even if your practice is relatively accessible, it’s crucial to make sure you’re prepared to meet any patient’s needs. Visitors to your office may need special transportation, an interpreter, wheelchair access, and countless other accommodations. With the right workflow, you’ll know about each patient’s situation well in advance.
- Preparing for exams. To reduce no-shows and increase patient engagement at your practice, it’s a good idea to double-check that each patient will be able to complete their exams. Implantable devices, claustrophobia, and obesity can all serve as barriers to radiology services. At the same time, you can remind visitors of special preparations like fasting before the exam and not taking medications that could affect results.
- Taking care of the finishing touches. Before you can truly wrap up a patient’s visit, you’ll need to send the results off to the referring physician.
How Referring Providers Affect Your Bottom Line
In most cases, your imaging center’s relationship with a patient begins with a referring provider. Unfortunately, there are a few challenges associated with this starting point. One of the biggest challenges is when a patient is not able to receive radiology services due to an incomplete or unsuccessful referral process. In fact, half of all diagnostic imaging referrals result in patients not getting the services they need.
This lack of efficiency and information can cause friction with the referring provider, the patient, and your imaging center. It’s important that you make the process as simple as possible. Ask yourself, how easy is your imaging center making it for referring providers to make appointments for their patients? Is the correct information getting conveyed? Are the results distributed in a timely manner?
Streamlining Your Referral Workflow
Overcoming the challenges faced by referring providers starts with simplifying your referral and order workflows. One solution could be to implement a referring physician portal and a user-friendly ordering wizard that can:
- Offer step-by-step instructions
- Provide critical questionnaires for the referring physician
- Upload medical records
- Electronically sign orders
- And more
By streamlining your referral workflow, your imaging center will build:
- Stronger relationships with physicians. Outpatient imaging centers aren’t the only organizations affected by poorly-designed referral workflows–the referring providers are affected too. And while improving your workflow will make life easier for you, it can also help your partners save time and money.
- Increased appointment volume. The easier you make it for referring physicians to send their patients to your imaging center, the more you’ll be able to scale your appointment volume from those providers.
- Fewer no-shows. Patient no-shows occur for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they forgot about their appointment or didn’t know the exam prep parameters. An optimized referral workflow reduces these bottlenecks and missed opportunities by keeping the patients informed.
- A better reputation. When you prioritize the experience for both providers and patients, you’ll receive more positive word-of-mouth, improving your reputation within your region.
Consider that every great experience gives physicians more reason to refer patients to your imaging center in the future.
What Can a Modern Referring Physician Portal Do for You?
At its core, a referring physician portal is an online space where referring physicians and imaging centers can communicate, collaborate, and coordinate appointments for patients. However, a modern referring physician portal does so much more.
Features to Look For in Your Portal
Ideally, your portal will allow your coworkers and each referring physician you work with to request exam times, e-sign exam orders, and upload medical records and images as needed. It should also provide you with access to:
- Communication– Any imaging center portal should make it easy for your staff to get in touch with patients at every stage of their journey.
- Upcoming exams– Support staff at your practice need to know when exams are scheduled, so pick a portal that includes a calendar of future appointments.
- Appointment cancellations– No-shows and cancelled appointments have a significant impact on day-to-day operations and the imaging center’s revenue. It’s crucial to keep up with changes to your practices’s everyday schedule in real time.
- Exam results and diagnostic images– With the right portal, you and the doctors working with your practice can easily review results and images.
- Follow-ups on critical findings– If you find something serious during an exam, your portal should help you take care of steps that follow like sending immediate results to the referring provider.
- Incidental findings– The portal should simplify the process of dealing with incidental discoveries to give patients peace of mind.
- Recommendations for follow-up exams– A patient’s journey doesn’t end when they get their images. It’s important that your workflow includes follow-up steps.
- Exam history– Patient history can be crucial when reviewing results. That’s why it’s important that your portal gives you access to their information quickly.
Choose the Best Software for Your Outpatient Imaging Center
Working with referring providers isn’t always easy, but a high-quality referring physician portal can make a noticeable difference. When your office is armed with the right solutions, referral workflows and processes are effortless for your team and theirs.
To bolster your experiences with referring physicians and increasing your appointment volume, you need a partner that specializes in seamless workflow integration. AbbaDox’s referring physician solutions are crafted with radiology practices and referring providers in mind, making them the perfect choice for your practice!