Episode 24: How Your Referral Process Impacts Your Staffing
One of the first questions that everyone asks is—"how much staff do I need?" You’re not going to be able to answer this question without defining your work flow. This is obviously a multi-step process so I'm going to break it down into segments.
First, you need to think through every step that occurs. Then, you’ll need to drill down and identify each task that goes into completing that step. From there, think about how long each task takes to complete for each step. With this information you will be able to write the job description for each position you need to fill and how many man hours are required. Then you'll know how many full-time equivalents (FTEs) you need.
The first step we are going to consider is your referral process.
For patients who self-refer:
- How does that patient make that first appointment?
- Do they schedule directly using one of the online scheduling services or do enter their data through a portal on your website?
- How does that integration happen with your practice management software?
And to go along with this—the patient may have created an appointment, but someone needs to make sure that a patient record is created in the EMR and populated with the correct demographic and insurance info.
For patients referred by another provider:
- How does that referral come in?
- Is it on a referral form that the other physician’s office faxes to your office?
- How is that referral form going to get to the potential referral source?
- Can the referral source complete a form on your website that gets transmitted to your office?
- Do they have to print out the form and fax it? Or do they fill out the form and efax it?
Ultimately, someone has to convert that referral into an appointment. And create a patient record in your EMR.
Do you want to review medical records before the initial visit?
- How are you going to educate your referral sources to send the relevant medical records with the referral?
- How do the records get to your office?
How does that referral in turn convert to a scheduled patient?
- Online scheduling software
- Through your EHR portal
- Does someone call the patient to make the appointment?
How is the amount that the patient owes you at the time of the initial visit determined?
How is that information communicated with the patient?
Once you are have worked through the answers to the above questions, you will have the framework for writing out your referral process. That, in turn, will help you as you work through your staffing needs.
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