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Patient Referral Tracking: The Key to Increasing Acquisition and Retention

Four Things You Need for More Referrals

The key to increasing patient acquisition is understanding your best referral sources. Here's how you can leverage technology to build a referral tracking process that enables growth.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, physicians and healthcare teams are looking for new ways to attract and retain patients. Patients have greater options than ever, which may lead them away from your practice. Traditionally used marketing methods to attract and retain patients, such as mailings and word of mouth are still effective, but you need more. The next step? Evaluating your current processes, building a provider network, and turning to a digital solution that can help you prevent leakage, increase ROI, and offer a continuum of care. Here are simple steps for improving your patient referral tracking process.

Designing a Clinical Trial

1. Choose the right platform

The first step is to evaluate your current patient referral process, including your referral tracking software. If providers are using a process or platform, ask how often they use it and what they like and don’t like about it. Look for opportunities for improvement. For example, is referring patients a multi-step or manual process? Healthcare professionals are continually pressed for time; toggling between siloed platforms takes way time from the patient and ultimately slows processes.

Once you have received feedback from your team and evaluated your needs, look for provider relationship management software that can support patient referrals, multi-channel referrals, and full-cycle tracking from opportunity to current patients. This will help simplify the patient management user experience and help your team get onboarded and using the platform faster.

Here’s what you should look for:

A centralized source of truth.

More and more, physicians and care teams are part of larger healthcare networks. While this provides great access to resources, often individual physicians and care teams are still siloed. A robust platform like Salesforce Health Cloud offers a centralized place for data, which allows all teams to work more collaboratively for patient outreach and patient care.

Referral management dashboards.

You’ll want comprehensive, yet well organized dashboards that provide visibility into each referral episode and the status of next steps. Managers and other authorized users should see a digital record of and key steps in the process, such as:

  • Referral entered
  • Referral acknowledged
  • Patient contacted
  • Appointment confirmed

This allows providers to see key information at a glance and also have the ability to track, manage, and make changes at needed.


The right referral tracking software will allow you to easily build email campaigns and other workflows. This will help you stay informed of where patients are in their healthcare journey and keep patients engaged at the same time.

For example, after a visit, the patient can be enrolled in email workflows. Provider teams can send relevant correspondence to patients about upcoming appointments, new providers, and resources they may find helpful. You can help ensure patients are getting the right information from a trusted source, instead of simply searching “Dr. Google.”

With these workflows, you can also track engagement, referral status, and assign follow-up tasks to post referral to determine patient satisfaction and identify secondary referral opportunities. It all works together to keep patients and providers connected and builds trust in your healthcare organization.

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We helped Medbox refine their referral process.

See how Salesforce Health Cloud enhanced patient management, streamlined the referral process, and unified data at MedBox.

2. Build a provider network

To create a successful patient referral tracking program, you will need to create a database of provider profiles. This will be used in workflows, allowing you to match patients’ needs with the right providers seamlessly and help ensure that patients are referred within the network. For example, if they have a new condition, instead of the patient doing research and looking for a provider out of network, the primary care physician can suggest an in-network care team.

Developing a workflow that matches the patient with the most appropriate provider and ensures the patient and provider complete an appointment is the key to driving downstream revenue. Communication with the patient and the receiving specialist are also vital to the process. Outreach options include email, text, or a simple phone call to walk through the referral and the provider or facility matching process.

Building a provider network is also a great opportunity to educate your immediate and extended teams and gain buy-in. Detail the benefits of in-network referrals, including better patient care as well as better revenue management. By showing your provider team the importance of patient referral tracking, you can help improve the health of your organization as a whole.

3. Create actionable insights

Ultimately, providers need to measure their referral process to know if it is successful. A common problem across industries – not just healthcare – is an overwhelming amount of data but little actionable insights. That’s why one of the most important features of patient referral tracking software is the ability to analyze data so you can create actual actionable insights.

By measuring your referral process, you can see which patients are staying with a certain provider or staying within the healthcare system. It’s also important to know when patients are referred out of network, which causes “leakage” (loss of revenue associated with referrals out of network). You may want to also go more granular, cross-referencing publicly available quality data with provider ratings to gain deeper insights as to why patients are choosing particular providers or health systems.

4. Communicate with patients – and providers

Traditionally, patient referral has been a passive process: A primary care provider informs the patient that he or she needs to see a specialist or have a test completed. Someone in the specialist’s office may or may not reach out to the patient to continue the next steps, so ultimately, the onus is on the patient to follow through.

Patient referral tracking is a continuous process that requires healthcare teams from across departments to work together. This takes some effort, but it’s made easier with the right referral tracking software. It’s also an opportunity to regularly connect with other providers, as well as your patients. This communication is essential to improving outcomes and increasing overall satisfaction and allows for more unified care management.

Penrod’s final take

Healthcare has become an increasingly competitive market over the past several years, which is why patient referral tracking software has become so important. Not only can it help you attract and retain patients, it can help you connect providers for more collaborative care. It’s a smart investment to help you effectively connect your providers, manage revenue and expenses, and provide an optimal continuum of care.

Looking to enhance your referral process?

We can help build a referral tracking process with a platform that enables growth.

Schedule a consultation with Penrod by filling out the form on the right.