Providing home infusion medical services remains a vital part of patient care.
In fact, according to a 2019 study by the National Home Infusion Association, home infusion and specialty providers cared for more than 3 million patients in the United States.1
Therefore, building a strong network of referrals with prescribing providers and clinicians is critical to a home infusion provider.
"The home infusion therapy pharmacy is an extension of a provider's care," says Susan Kotok, corporate accounts director for home infusion therapy at McKesson Medical-Surgical. "Knowing and having confidence in that next step in the patient care continuum is vital."
Here are five ways home infusion therapy agencies can build healthy referral relationships.
1 | Strictly adhere to safety protocols
Show your dedication to high-quality patient care by assuring all your home infusion medical devices — such as infusion pumps and ventilators— follow the safety monitoring and reporting standards (including ISO 13485 certification) set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 13485:2016 specifies patient-focused and risk-based requirements for a Quality Management System to service medical devices that consistently meet customer and applicable regulatory requirements.2
"Following the protocols validates who you say you are and demonstrates that you have integrity," says Veronica Crawford, RN, BSN, clinical support manager, McKesson Medical-Surgical.
- Confirm the certification level of your biomedical service provider. Becoming ISO 13485:2016 is a rigorous process that not all service providers invest in, but it's critical for patient safety
- Make this a key point of information you readily share with your referral sources
Keep your patients protected with an ISO-certified biomedical equipment provider. McKesson Biomedical Solutions™ can help.
2 | Maintain clear & transparent communications
Keeping the lines of communication open is paramount to establishing a healthy referral relationship. Crawford says it's all about a customer-first approach.
"As a referring provider, I want the person answering my initial call to have at least some knowledge about home infusion therapy so they can properly process the call," she says.
Regardless of credentials, if your customer service staff doesn't connect with the clinicians, it can stop a potential relationship in its tracks. Likewise, when you make a mistake, admit it.
"You should never get defensive," Kotok says. "You should always own it and talk about what you're going to do to make it right. You should have a high level of accountability."
3 | Provide excellent customer service
It should go without saying, but providing great customer service is essential to building healthy referral relationships with clinicians and other medical personnel.
"Customer service is paramount," Kotok says. "If you don't have good customer service, that's going to create not only a negative customer service experience, but it may also affect overall patient care."
According to a two-year, 2020 National Home Infusion Foundation assessment report, 82.15% of patients "strongly agreed" with the statement, "I was satisfied with the overall quality of the services provided."3
Though this is a high degree of patient satisfaction, it also shows there is room to improve and set your company apart from the competition.
"It can be very confusing and challenging, and if you don't have good customer service, it's potentially going to lead to trouble for that patient," Kotok says. Patients and their families often have many questions about the medical devices and supplies they receive, so it's imperative to know how to answer them.
On the flip side, clinicians and medical personnel want to have confidence in the home infusion therapy agencies they use to deliver the customer service their patients need — which, if satisfied, may lead to more referrals for your business. You can help build this trust by working with companies that can provide clinical support, training resources, high-quality distribution and biomed services.
Take the burden of stocking, servicing & tracking equipment off your shoulders. McKesson Biomedical Solutions™ is the complete solution to your equipment needs, offering infusion, enteral & respiratory equipment rental, along with preventative maintenance, ISO-certified medical equipment repairs, full asset management programs & more.
4 | Network, network, network
Referrals come from more than just the receptionist, nurse or clinician you talk to about your home infusion therapy services:
- It's crucial to connect with everyone who is a patient care & home infusion therapy touchpoint
- It would help if you worked on building relationships throughout the healthcare community, given an infusion patient referral could come from anywhere
- "To gain consistent referrals and preferred status, everyone in the physician practice or referral department needs to be familiar with your company and your sales team, " Crawford says
- Don't have just one line for a referral source because if that breaks, you have nothing else
5 | Be specific when requesting a referral
One of the best ways to build healthy referral relationships is to ask for a referral. And knowing your strengths can help you target your request for that referral.
For instance, if you know your home infusion therapy agency does a great job with home-based antibiotics, specifically ask for that referral, Kotok says.
She also recommends targeting the clinician or medical personnel for a referral. "For example, if we're doing home-based antibiotics therapy well, you want to talk to infectious disease providers and their staff because those are the providers sending patients home on home-based antibiotics treatment," she says.
Home pharmacies should also share wins with the prescribing provider, including positive patient outcomes and examples of patient feedback back — reinforcing the provider's decision to work with home pharmacies and building momentum around the positive experiences of mutual patients.
Whether adhering to the latest safety protocols, providing excellent customer service or targeting your referral requests, building healthy referral relationships is crucial to growing your home infusion therapy agency. By setting yourself apart from competitors, you're on your way to many more referrals for your home infusion business.
© 2022 McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.