Using Technology to Fix the Broken Referral System and to Improve the Patient Experience: Part 1

Introducing technology to manage patient referrals, records, and appointments keep all the information at your fingertips in one location.

The haphazard process of referring your valuable patients out of the office to a specialist deserves a professional makeover.  We are developing better technology to manage our patient’s appointments and follow-through, but are we improving the patient experience in the process? 

Consider patient safety when making a referral. Not only must the information be transferred accurately, but it must be secured and HIPAA compliant.  One central electronic location for all patients referred out of the office is the superior method of managing valuable patients.  The software is separate from the practice management software yet can be integrated for exceptional referring results.

Tracking the source of referrals in your current practice management software such as Dentrix or Eaglesoft is only as good as the person entering the source in the database.  In the rush to enter enough patient information to schedule an appointment, the referral source is often passed over to be entered “later.”   If the referral source is not listed, add it, don’t choose “misc.” Or “other.”  If in haste the operator doesn’t take the time to list a new referral source, the accuracy of the referral report is questioned.  When you refer a patient out to a specialist, you can indicate the source in most dental software, but you cannot put in clinical notes or create an electronic referral form from this page. You do not have a platform where the General Dentist and the specialists, and the patient can all communicate together as you can with This separate electronic referral software integrates with the current practice software.

The technology offered by a patient management software like offers superior HIPAA compliant transfer of records and clinical notes.  The best software can:

  • Securely and accurately send dental patient referrals, including radiographs, clinic notes, and patient information—with no lost referrals.
  • Keep your patients informed by tracking referrals, appointments, and providing the patient with a “chat” feature to keep a communication lifeline with their healthcare providers.
  • Get email notifications on referral status—no phone calls.
  • Electronic referrals can be saved and then accessed by staff at any time.
  • An electronic referral is received quicker and is legible versus a written paper form.
  • When information is received safely and seamlessly, the patient is appointed faster.

Newer technology and more cohesiveness of communication between providers result in confirmed appointments and healthier and happier patients.  

In Part 2 of this article, we will explore the Top Five Technologies that improve the patient experience.

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