Surveying your referral sources? Look for the gold, and polish the diamonds!
"So Dr. Crabwell doesn't like our phone system...well, he's only one person so let's not do anything about it."
Wrong. When you're talking about feedback from referring doctors, every comment is a priority - Dr. Crabwell could be worth a dozen referrals each year, and that's worth treating his comment as a strong indicator of his future revenue potential.
Not so with patient surveys - they're all about sample size, t-scores and standard deviations. We care whether the scores are "statistically projectable across our entire patient base," and whether sampling bias is affecting the validity of the findings.
But reading your referring primary care physician (PCP) survey is more like mining for gold - every nugget is a keeper! And some nuggets are more like uncut diamonds than others.
After conducting referring physician surveys for more than 20 years, we've found that there are certain questions that have high priority with primary care doctors, but seem to result in frequent low scores. Once you know what your PCPs think, you can turn that rough stone into a polished gem!
For example, one question many specialist physicians want to know is how satisfied their referring physicians are with "Our ability to offer your patient a timely appointment." Every respondent who circles either "Fair" or "Poor" is very likely to have at least one foot on the path toward your competitor who has open slots in the schedule.
Solution? Ask yourself, are you being too specialized in terms of clinical cases you're willing to see? Have you brought in a mid-level to help? Have you recruited another physician and extended your hours by splitting your shifts?
Another question that indicates whether you'll see more referrals from your primary care doctor sources is "timeliness of patient status reports." As one physician told us, "I hate to run into a patient who knows more about her visit than I do a week after I've referred her to a specialist!"
Solution? Include a question on the survey that asks the referring physician how s/he prefers to receive the status note. If you're not already connected through your hospital's EHR system, consider email or faxing to your referrers.
What are your PCPs' hot buttons? You won't know unless you ask! For a copy of the SullivanLuallin MGMA referring physician survey, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "referring physician survey" in the subject line.