The Practice Pearls section is frequently where I turn first to get the best tips for our practice, and I was tickled to see “Stop providing secretarial services for referrals” [July/August 2012]. We have been working toward the goal of handing over more work to referral specialists for years and are beginning to see great progress. Many of our referrals are done by faxing a form, along with demographics and records, to the specialist, who then contacts the patient directly or faxes or calls us with an appointment time. Now if we could just get more physicians to send us their notes after they see our patients!
Our small group practice remains full, and our balance sheet positive, precisely because we perform patient advocacy and stewardship tasks such as ensuring that referrals are completed. We balance the work with the other specialists, and sometimes we have to sigh when we find a specialist who appears to “dump” work on us. However, overall, this type of service is less expensive than marketing and more effective at attracting long-term, loyal families to our practice.