Alaska Neurology Center, located in Anchorage, is the state’s premier neurology and neuroscience treatment center. Patients from all over the state visit the clinic for comprehensive care on par with the best hospitals in the nation.
Approximately 75 percent of all new patients come to the clinic through referrals from other physicians. “As a specialty clinic, we live on referrals. Our referrals process really hits the bottom line,” said Eli Lehrmann, operations manager.
Once a patient is referred, the clinic follows a series of steps and handoffs to get new patients ready for their office visits: verifying insurance coverage, collecting medical records, and scheduling patients for lab tests and office visits. For office efficiency and patient satisfaction, it’s a process that must be organized.
“Before, we used Microsoft Explorer folders for patient referrals. We experienced a lot of inefficiencies in managing referrals as our volume of new patients grew,” Lehrmann said.
With an IT background, Lehmann was familiar with bug-tracking solutions, which ensure issues are handled correctly through a series of steps. Alaska Neurology Center needed a similar workflow solution, but not one specific to bug-tracking.
Issuetrak stood out for being a customizable solution for managing patient referrals through critical steps. Issuetrak also provided much-needed ease of use for the 12-15 non-technical users in the office.
“We demoed three different solutions and Issuetrak had the customizability, features, and ease of use we need for referral tracking,” Lehrmann said. “You don’t have to be a programmer to use it.”
The team at Issuetrak consulted with the clinic about its workflow and created the fields and process to take referrals from end to end. Only Lehrmann received training from Issuetrak – remotely – and then trained the rest of the users in his office. Most staff members picked it up in one to two hours.
Referrals arrive via fax or email and are automatically assigned to a staff member. With fields such as referring physician and other patient information entered, the patient’s case is automatically passed to a staff member to verify insurance information. Other staff members handle patient scheduling for visits and lab testing, mailing of patient paperwork and collection of patient records. Self-referred patients go through the very same process. Every patient interaction now goes through Issuetrak.
The goal: check off every box before the patient visits the office.
Anyone who uses Issuetrak knows the steps that have been completed for any patient record. Even though the clinic uses a separate medical records system, staff members enter chart notes into Issuetrak.
Lehrmann also uses Issuetrak to run monthly reports for insight into trends and the sources of referrals, helping determine where to spend marketing funds.
With a workflow system, the clinic saves an estimated 50 percent of the time it once spent on referral-related work. Staff members no longer duplicate phone calls, questions for patients and other steps in the new-patient process. Handoffs are smooth and clearly defined.
Since implementing Issuetrak, Alaska Neurology Center has increased its gross revenue by 25 to 30 percent – largely attributed to its more streamlined process. Staff members complete the steps to get patients in to see doctors faster.
“Being proactive in completing all the requirements for new patient visits helps us alleviate lost revenue,” Lehrmann said.
Plus, patients are happier. When someone needs to visit the clinic, many are anxious about their health and visit. Alaska Neurology Center gets in touch with patients more quickly than before, and stays on task and organized throughout the process – making patients feel as if their hands are held throughout the process.