What Happened to My Patient? One Transfer Center Notification That Increases Referrals and Trust

Hospital transfer centers become known for their great service and ease of use. A referring hospital can call one number and be connected quickly with a knowledgeable staff member who has all the tools to effectively discuss the transfer of the patient. But it takes time for the referring community to trust the transfer center and see it as the invaluable resource that it is.  Frequently hospital leaders ask me how they can make their transfer center more visible.

Having worked with transfer centers nationwide, I’ve learned one of the best ways a transfer center can get the word out to the community about its services: The transfer center should become involved in the notification of PCP and referring providers regarding the outcomeof the transferred patient. Simply informing providers what happened to their patient (your patient was seen and discharged from the hospital; your patient is admitted to the hospitalist service under the care of Dr. Samuel Smith) boosts trust in, and loyalty for, transfer center processes.
The following should be done on a daily basis:

  1. Run a report from the admitting system that lists:
    • All patients that were admitted to the hospital the previous day
    • The name, contact number, and/or email of the sending physician
  2. Then the transfer center notifies each sending physician and/or PCP of the patient’s status:
    • Patient has been admitted to the hospital
    • Name of the attending doctor that is assignedLevel of care
    • Phone number of the transfer center should they require more information
  3. Upon discharge, the transfer center sends a discharge summary to the referring provider on behalf of the accepting provider indicating the outcome of the patient’s stay and subsequent care.

This single practice is one of the most effective ways to make the transfer center more visible and to build relationships with community providers. Without taking this step, referring providers may feel a patient sent to your hospital becomes disconnected in the patient care continuum, or lost in a “black hole.” Closing that loop, or possibly opening a new dialogue, will have long-lasting effects toward increasing transfers to the hospital.

Interested in more transfer center best practices? Come check out the 2014 Patient Flow Summit in Las Vegas. Several presenters will describe transfer center strategies and other throughput topics you’d likely be interested in: ED flow, process engineering, LOS optimization, etc.