Managing Patient Expectations: Better Coordinated Care

April 5, 2012

Making cost, clinical, and service compatibility matches with referral partners pays off in five key ways.

Patients expect their costs to be controlled without compromising their quality of care or outcome. Simple, obvious, and easier said than done because it requires improvements in coordination of care, often without the tools in place to efficiently implement them, earning it fifth place on a list of 10 new patient expectations, which I introduced in January.

Last week’s article focused on patient expectations for personalized care. This week, as last, communication plays a central, and even more challenging, role because managing new aspects including the relative cost to the patient; equivalent quality of service; and coordinated focus and reinforcing messages on wellness and early detection need to be between multiple providers in different locations and independent from the primary-care provider.

Treatment partners have always been interconnected clinically. Adding cost, service, and consistency of message and philosophy is a challenging, but necessary evolutionary change.

Choosing referral partners

You don’t have to manage referrals alone. Rely on your staff. They will know which referral partners patients complain about and which they praise.

Assign a staffer to each patient as their liaison for referrals. That staffer should know the referral partners, have visited their offices, know their billing and collection policies, their rates, whether they are in or out of network, know their staff, have a relationship with their counterpart there, make priority appointments for patients, and set expectations so that there are no surprises.

Sound like a lot of work? At first, yes. But, it is an investment that will generate exceptional returns for years to come.

Thinking inside of the box:
• Do your referral partners have compatible billing and collection policies?
• Are your referral partners compatible with your cost, quality, and outcome practices?
• Is the quality of service provided by your referral partners equivalent to yours?

If not, you are much more likely to hear about it. What’s more, if your referral partners are not compatible, you are the one at risk of losing your patient and their referrals.

Thinking outside of the box - for neurologists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and primary-care providers (among others): Are local dentists your referral partners? They should be.

A 2010 NYU study definitively tied periodontal disease and gum inflammation to cognitive decline (the inflammation is also likely to be in the brain killing neurons) and Alzheimer's.1

Certain oral conditions are precursor signals to diabetes, which dentists are trained to identify.

Other oral conditions are indicators of coronary disease, which dentists are trained to identify.

People see dentists about four times more often as they see their doctors.

Easy math.

Making cost, clinical, and service compatibility matches with referral partners pays off in five important ways:
• Increased cash flow
• Strong competitive advantages
• Strong patient loyalty
• Earned patient referrals
• Improved outcomes by reducing stress

Today’s competitive advantage is tomorrow’s necessity. Find out more about James Doulgeris and our other Practice Notes bloggers.1Gum Inflammation Linked to Alzheimer's Disease