When it comes to collaborating with other medical professionals, being known as the nurse practitioner who is a master of referrals is a huge boost for your reputation. This includes both giving and receiving referrals. Referrals show that you know your business, you know your peers, and you know your clients. It shows that you have standing in the world of telemedicine, avid nurse practitioner knowledge, and that people are not only willing, but eager, to collaborate with you. All of this helps build up your reputation as an efficient, experienced and knowledgeable nurse practitioner. So how do you give and receive referrals in your local medical community? Read our tips to start.
Give the Story, Give the Data
When you send a patient to a colleague, you want to be well-equipped. You want to be prepared with everything that your colleague needs to know to help your patient out. You should thus know your patient’s medical history to the letter and be able to present that story to your colleague both concisely and with detail. For instance, “Mr. Jones is a 52-year-old male with diabetes and hypertension and presents with these symptoms”. This story is what you lead with when you give a referral or refer a patient to your colleague. It is important that you do not leave anything out, so be sure to take your time to go through the notes before you hand your patient over to your colleague.
Once you have given the story, you want to back it up with the data. Attach your patient’s EKG, their recent chest work, or a chest x-ray. Attach everything that you think is necessary for your colleague to make a well-rounded and thorough assessment of your patient. You want everything that you say to be backed up with evidence so that your colleague can assess the information first-hand. The keywords to giving a referral are precision and detail. Balancing the two provides a perfect jumping board from which your colleague can work with to help your patient efficiently and thoroughly.
Ask Specific Questions
Why are you sending your patient to a colleague? You want to be explicit about what you are hoping to achieve from their interaction. Ask your colleague specific questions. For instance, perhaps you are sending your patient to them to find out if they need to be put on propranolol. However, if you do not have a specific question in mind, say that you would appreciate your colleague’s helping evaluating, co-managing and treating the patient with you. Whatever you want, you need to be clear about it. Do you want to manage the patient together? Do you want to have your colleague take the lead? Know what you want and be precise about it. This helps save time and avoid misunderstandings down the line.
Becoming the Master of Referrals
Part of mastering and receiving referrals is knowing your professional etiquette. While work ethic and knowledge are key to a good practice, what really sets you apart is how you interact with others. If you are receiving a referral, you want to have a follow-up template prepared that is both professional and personable. You can attach this thank you to your progress note from the visit. Once again, precise detail is key. This may seem like an oxymoron but putting down your thoughts with concision and yet including all the key details is an invaluable skill that all medical practitioners will eventually cultivate. Here is what a follow-up template can include:
- A thank-you note (keep this brief but friendly; no need to be effusive).
- A progress report concisely noting the key details
- The date on which you saw the patient
Once you have gained staff for your practice, the task of preparing this template can be outsourced to them; however, having this template itself generates a feeling of camaraderie between you and your colleagues. You are showing that you value their referrals and take your own duties seriously. Your colleagues will love to send their patients to you because you update them on what occurred during the visit and the insights you have gleaned from it, instead of leaving them in the dark. A constant and reliable chain of information is key to ensuring that a patient is taken care of and treated in the best way possible. You have likely heard horror stories about practitioners who have referred their patients to colleagues and never heard back. Do not be the punchline of such a story and ensure that you always keep your lines of communication clear and prompt. Some practitioners might think that it is enough to have their patient relay what happened during a visit or consultation with their colleague, but it is important to note that patients are not typically equipped with the necessary medical knowledge or vocabulary to provide a thorough assessment. As the medical professional, it is your duty to update your colleague on the visit or consultation.
Now that you have a better idea of how to give and receive referrals in your local medical community, you can think about expanding your telemedicine practice by creating a strong network. If you are a nurse practitioner seeking a collaborating physician, Collaborating Docs is the perfect place. We aim to match nurse practitioners with the collaborating physicians they need in all 50 states across the country. If we are unable to get you a match within 14 days, a full refund is guaranteed. Request a Zoom call for a free quote from us today!