Have a referral service for an open medical staff?

Please share your experience

(Editor’s note: This month, we offer a new feature in Hospital Access Management to help you find answers to your questions. In each Access Feedback column, we’ll outline a problem an access manager faces and offer an opportunity for readers to network with that person on solutions. For information on submitting problems, see note at the end of this column.)

The Background: This issue was submitted by Pat Ellison, corporate director of patient access services for Charleston (WV) Area Medical Center (CAMC), which is a multihospital, tertiary care center.

"As grow our centers of excellence, the numbers of requests for transfers and outpatient referrals increase. Physicians without contacts in Charleston have no efficient way to admit or refer their patients to CAMC. Ours is an open medical staff — the majority of our physicians are not employed by the hospitals, and there is reluctance on our part to require our physicians to accept any transfer that might be requested via a physician access line.

"Referring physicians are frustrated because it is difficult to get a referral or arrange a transfer. When they are successful, it often takes weeks or more before they hear about their patient from a CAMC physician or, worse yet, they complain that they may never see the patient again.

Dilemma: "How do we design and implement an efficient physician access line within Patient Access Services with an open medical staff? How do we get our physicians to support this service? How can we ensure that referring physicians receive timely follow-up information from CAMC? Is it possible to use this toll-free access line for physicians who may require assistance from medical records and the business office? Can we use personnel in appointment scheduling and preregistration to handle these calls?

"Do you have a physician-to-physician referral service that operates in an open medical staff environment? Would you share your successes and failures? Please contact me. Telephone: (304) 348-9799. Fax: (304) 348-9633. E-mail: pat.ellison@camcare.com. Address: Charleston Area Medical Center, 3200 MacCorkle Ave. SE, Charleston, WV 25304. I would be very willing to compile and distribute the responses to participants."

[Editor’s note: If you would like to submit an item for Access Feedback, call Editor Lila Moore at (404) 636-9264 or Managing Editor Glen Harris at (404) 262-5461; e-mail glen_harris@medec.com, or fax your question to (404) 261-3964.]