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Can mHealth Apps Solve Hospitals’ Referral Leakage Problem?

February 24, 2015 | Stuart Hochron

A well-executed mHealth solution can help healthcare organizations prevent referral leakage and improve care coordination. Physicians tend to refer patients to physicians and services they know and trust, which makes changing physician referral patterns difficult.

Physicians who identify and communicate with referral sources using a well-executed mHealth solution more frequently utilize in-network consultants and services. mHealth solutions that facilitate secure communication and improved collaboration among network professionals increase utilization of network services, and result in better connected, faster, and higher quality care.

There are two critical features that mHealth solutions should offer to streamline the physician referral process:

1. A directory of providers that enables referring physicians to deliver referrals with one click

2. An accurate version of the network’s on call schedule that referring physicians can consult (rather than paper-listings)

mHealth apps that enable physicians to identify and communicate with referral sources enable better quality care in the following ways:

1. Strengthens physician relationships and communication

  • Multiple channels for communication among physicians and care team members (secure texting, VOIP, and video)
  • Parties can communicate in real-time, regardless of location


2. Improves the efficiency and quality of referrals

  • Consultants can access full patient history and care team notes with ease
  • Real-time communication between referring and consulting physicians, and delivery of current clinical data via a single platform


3. Supports population health management goals

  • Managing referral information is easier when referrals flow through the network’s mHealth solution
  • Patients remain part of your healthcare system’s network, and can be supported by your network’s physicians and services


Physician referral leakage is an issue for healthcare organizations working to clinically integrate care, improve quality performance, reduce inefficiencies and generate cost savings. For healthcare systems striving to provide higher quality care, referral leakage can result in increased costs of up to $120K per physician annually. Well-executed mHealth solutions that minimize referral leakage ultimately support improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction by reducing treatment delays, improving care team communication, and smoothing patient transitions among network physicians and services.

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