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Patient Referral Leakage: On-Call Physician Scheduling Prevents Lost Revenue

Hospitals recognize that patient referral leakage is a problem that negatively impacts their bottom lines. Fully 43 percent of administrators estimate that leakage results in a loss of more than 10 percent of annual revenue. Close to one in ten hospital executives - 87 percent - are prioritizing plugging those leaks, yet don’t always have the tools to do so. For example, they may not have the data to pinpoint the service lines that are leaking patients or the technology to put a halt to the domino effect of revenue siphoning.

Patient leakage is typically discussed in the context of patient referrals. The factors involved in patient referral leakages may include a disconnect between physicians in a healthcare organization and that system’s hospitals, capacity issues at hospitals – especially in the COVID era – and negative patient or physician experiences with regard to referrals. Whatever the cause, patient leakage can seem like an intractable problem.

Patient Leakage in the Emergency Department

The role of the emergency department in patient leakage is both often misperceived and easily rectified. The emphasis is almost always placed on the leakage that occurs once a patient is discharged from the emergency department and doesn’t rely on the healthcare organization for further diagnostic tests or follow-up care. In truth, significant patient leakage occurs before a patient even arrives at the emergency department’s doorstep.

Several factors must align in order for an ambulance to deliver a patient to the emergency department. Paramount is whether or not the hospital being considered has the resources to care for the patient. When the ambulance crew is en route and calls into the hospital, the central question is whether or not the facility has the right specialist available or on call. An affirmative answer can ensure that the patient arrives shortly, while a negative answer virtually guarantees that the ambulance will move to Plan B. If the ambulance crew knows that a hospital has consistent staffing weaknesses, their default action may be to take the patient to a competitor.

Patient Referral Leakage in the Transfer Center

A hospital system’s transfer center is like an air traffic control tower. When all goes well, patients in need of specialized medical treatment land in the care of the right physician. When the right specialist can’t be located, however, the transfer center is forced to turn down the transfer, sending the patient to a more distant site or a facility outside of the hospital system. As a result, the hospital loses revenue for high acuity patients that have complex medical needs. To stop this type of patient leakage, transfer centers must implement processes that can coordinate hospital resources and ensure that the appropriate physicians are available. They must also have capability to contact on-call physicians across multiple sites.

On-Call Physician Scheduling Software Prevents Patient Leakage

On-call physician scheduling software can ensure that the right physician is called at the right time, thus preventing patient leakage caused by insufficient staffing and communications. Cloud-based software bypasses spreadsheet or pen-and-paper manual scheduling systems, enabling real-time scheduling updates and real-time schedule access from any location. This recaptures the potential loss resulting from patient leakage.

MDsyncNET’s cloud-based scheduling software not only provides seamless on-call physician scheduling, but also supplies mechanisms for keeping accurate up-to-the-minute physician contact information and texting or paging physicians. Call tracking provides hospital administrators with call cycle metrics that provide insights into the responsiveness of providers. Taken together, MDsyncNET helps plug patient leakage in the emergency department and augments hospital revenues.

MDsyncNET offers best-in-class web-based physician scheduling software. To see MDsyncNET in action, visit or call 888-506-5061.

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