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When and How to Refer Out to Your Specialist and Provider Network

By Planet DDS
August 2, 2021

Patient trust has portability. Sounds like a strange idea but it makes sense in the context of when a general dental practice should refer out.

Patients trust your expertise. That’s true even when that trust is transferred to your network of trusted specialists.

Something more valuable than production?

It’s good to know that you can maintain patient trust without risking it out of a desire to produce dentistry. Patients rely on your scope of expertise.

But, as you know, there are occasions when you hand-off what’s in the best interest of their health to another’s skills.

The greater part of referring your patients is being intentional about building, widening, and deepening your referral pool. The quality of those relationships is good for your patient as well as helping you deal with the sense that you’re giving up control of their case and outcomes.

When to refer out is in direct connection with how you refer out

Again, referral relationships are built on a mutual trust in each other’s expertise. You (the primary provider) will recognize when you’re out-of-your-depth. This acknowledgement allows the provider to whom you refer the opportunity to provide treatment at less risk, cost, and time.

Utilize timely communication solutions

Technology innovations improve communication between you and your referral relationships. Much of the improvement has to do with well-timed communication around a patient referral.

Real-time, instant communication platforms like teledentistry and other virtual resources or our Denticon external referral feature allow you to make a fast and efficient referral connection.

Referral colleagues also have the opportunity to review your patient’s case, data, images, scans, etc., when it’s convenient according to their production schedule.

Either way, the common denominator is technology. Your patient, you, and your referral colleagues “win” when it’s used effectively.

Rely on the wisdom and experience of your referral relationships

You trust them otherwise you wouldn’t include them in your referral network. Your patient’s information and related case images, etc. tell the “story.”

Allow the specialist to interpret the data you provide. Your input on next steps – while useful – should give latitude to the specialist’s expertise.

Clarify any communication breakdowns. These happen on occasion.

  • Ask for their perspective on treatment outcomes
  • Ask them how you can support follow-up related results

Honor your trust in them with openness. Again, this keeps the focus on your patient’s care results.

Travel the two-way street of respect

All referral relationships thrive and survive on mutual respect. And your patients feel that the moment you make the introduction and proceed with the treatment hand-off.

The respect you exchange in the gap between your role in their case and that of your colleague helps keep the emphasis on their health outcomes.

  • When applicable, respect the fact that a procedure didn’t turn out as you planned and presented it.
  • Respect the patient’s expectation that their agreed upon treatment outcome is the goal.
  • Respect the role your colleague has in bringing the procedure to its desired results.

This triad of respect (you, patient, colleague) will help assure the long-term relationship you desire with each of your patients.

Check-out the following resources to maximize your provider referrals:

Revolutionizing External Referral Management

How Groups and DSOs Can Easily Manage Internal Referrals to Specialists With Denticon

Press Release: A New Way to Manage Referrals: Planet DDS Unveils the Dental Industry’s First Patient Referral Management Tool in Denticon Practice Management Solution

Remember that earlier point about technology…?

Technology solutions support your referral relationships. They’re core to the “how” of “when” you refer out to your trusted specialist network.

Consider a cloud-based solution and improve your treatment conversations.

You might find the cloud platform like Denticon to be optimum for your referral relationships…

Thinking about or ready to update your dental practice management software? Contact us or request a demo of the Denticon platform…before you decide!