Fair and Equal Patient Referral Distribution: Why Leave it to Mere Mortals?

After delivering my first few presentations of Opargo, I came to a profound observation: Doctors are all about being fair and equal – and they can count!

In the competitive world of specialty practices, there’s a great deal of sensitivity surrounding fair and equal patient referral distribution. This accounts for a significant number of patients, who are often referred to an overall practice and not a specific physician. It’s a complicated task to begin with; add equal and fair to the equation and you’ve got a real challenge.


The Industry Model: Dazed and Confused

Most practices don’t have an effective process to manage these referrals. In some cases, the scheduling staff have their favorite physician and the patients end up on her appointment schedule. Don’t think this method doesn’t create some bad blood and controversy within the practice.

In other practices, there may be a rotating schedule where one physician may get all the referrals in a given period of time. But that system is far from equitable as one time period may have a surplus of patients while the next one only has a few.

A physician may feel that the only way to monitor the referrals is to count the new patients on all of the practice schedules. The operations staff may then be presented with a physician who counted up the referrals and is displeased at how the new patients were distributed and to whom they went. Sounds like a disaster in the making.

This workflow inequity is a well-known problem and one we hear about in almost every encounter we have with providers. In fact, many practices have told us they place an emphasis on each provider receiving his appropriate number of new patients. This is definitely too important and sensitive a task to hand over to mere mortals or arbitrary monthly designations.


The Opargo Solution: Fair and Equal

After repeatedly hearing this concern, the Opargonauts put their heads together and developed a way to take this task out of the hands of schedulers or office managers and let the Opargo optimization engine do all the counting and scheduling. Opargo now manages these referrals by distributing them equally to the physicians in a practice.  The tool keeps in mind sub-specialties, the type of patient ailment, and Opargo’s optimization standards while distributing these patients to the practice.

This ability to automatically distribute a new patient referred to a practice on to a specific provider is based on the rules of the practice as well as the specialty/procedure. Furthermore, Opargo assures than only providers configured to see the appointment type will be included in the potential referral. After providers reach their allotted number of new patients, they will no longer be included in the search results until all providers with the quota group reach their allotted number of new patients.

To ensure this process works fair and equally, Opargo issues a distribution list of each unassigned new patient as well as details regarding provider, value, booked date, and appointment date. This enables long-term tracking of appointment distribution to ensure count and value are properly allocated.

In the end, this technology and optimization makes schedulers’ lives easier and providers happier.

A few years ago, one of my daughters asked me why I liked my job so much. After some thought, I realized that consulting with medical practices often resulted in uncovering cumbersome or broken processes. Being able to identify those opportunities for improvement and utilizing software to automate them brings me great satisfaction.

I love being part of the planning, testing, and enactment of technology that fills such voids, like how Opargo solves the challenges of fair and equal patient referral distribution.

You can count on it.

Posted in: Optimization