SCI Report: Communication and Convenience Bring Hospitals More Referrals

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With much uncertainty looming over the healthcare industry, many hospitals and health systems have expressed concerns over losing insured patients and revenue if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed and/or replaced. Regardless of what industry changes are in store, it is paramount for hospitals, health systems and independent physician practices alike to provide patient-centric experiences that encourage long-term relationships throughout the care community. Health systems that work to cultivate referral partners can potentially benefit from increased revenue.

We analyzed a recent Reaction (formerly peer60) survey of more than 500 independent physicians and found that the majority (58 percent) do not actually have a preferred hospital partner. Independent physicians cited convenience and patient-focused care coordination as the biggest determinants for choosing a hospital partner. Our report, “Independent Physician Survey: The Referral Destination Hospital,” reveals that many hospitals do not realize the full economic value of community partners and are missing an opportunity to become a destination of choice hospital.

Jeff Lagasse, a reporter at the leading industry publication Healthcare Finance News, reviewed our report. In his article, he circles in on why convenience and communication are such critical offerings for both referring physicians and their patients. Because these findings indicate that both of these attributes influence whether or not a hospital becomes a physician’s preferred referral partner, hospitals that eliminate appointment booking hassles and provide timely follow-ups are more likely to expand and grow their provider referral network.

In our report, we also concluded that hospitals should focus on providing insurance authorizations and provider/patient self-scheduling capabilities. The data shows that 38 percent of referring independent providers are more likely to refer to a different hospital if that hospital provides authorizations to its community physicians. Thirty-seven percent said they were more likely to refer to another hospital if it offers providers self-scheduling tools. In addition to physician convenience, 32 percent stated that consumer friendly self-service capabilities are also critical.

With the increasing consumerization of healthcare, the importance of providing patient self-scheduling and access stood out to Jacqueline Belliveau of RevCycleIntelligence. Her article on our report highlights how today’s healthcare consumers expect easy access and engagement when dealing with the healthcare system, and when access becomes difficult, health systems risk losing them as patients and potential revenue. Similarly, a recent report from Accenture found seven percent of patients have switched healthcare providers due to a poor customer experience, resulting in a loss of more than $100 million in annual revenue per hospital. Hospitals and health systems need to ensure smooth and seamless experiences for both patients and referring physicians in order to keep revenue coming through the doors.

We are excited about the findings from this survey, and we hope these insights further encourage hospitals and health systems to provide exceptional patient experiences through supportive and sophisticated technology tools. Others across the healthcare media landscape have also shared the impactful results, including HISTalk Practice, Becker’s Hospital CFO and HIT Consultant – our news partners have helped us spread the word with nearly 900K unique monthly readers thus far.

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