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Convenience, communication crucial to independent physician hospital referrals, survey says

Once a relationship built on convenience and service is established, referring physicians will keep sending patients there, SCI survey says.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

A new survey of independent physicians by SCI solutions shows that convenience and communication are critical attributes for deciding where they'll send their patients. That translates into a revenue opportunity for hospitals, since there are ways for them to enhance their convenience and communication -- giving them an advantage when it comes to becoming physicians' preferred partner.

Of those who have preferred hospital partners, 46 percent of physicians said that more than 70 percent of their orders, and more than 70 percent of their referrals, to go a top partner, according to SCI.

Those findings indicate that once a relationship built on convenience and service is established with a preferred destination hospital, referring physicians will keep sending patients to that hospital.

Moreover, there's plenty of opportunity to do this. SCI's figures show that 58 percent of physicians lack a preferred hospital partner, meaning hospitals haven't realized the full economic value of their community partners.

[Also: Nearly 85% of independent physicians unsure of MACRA requirements, but look to participate]

Offering convenience is the best way to gain a competitive advantage in this regard, the survey showed. For example, 38 percent of physicians are likely to refer to a different hospital if it provides authorizations to its community physicians. Self-scheduling features also tend to make a hospital more attractive to providers, the survey found, as 37 percent are likely to refer to a different hospital if it offers community providers self-scheduling tools.

Adopting those functions, and doing them well, are likely to make a hospital more attractive to referring providers; more than ever, they and their patients expect smooth care coordination when it comes to referrals, orders, authorizations, scheduling and payment.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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