Evaluation of specialist referrals at a rural health care clinic
No prior evaluation of specialist referrals from primary care has been conducted. An evaluation of this process was broadly aligned with the interests of administrative and clinical leadership, offering useful data for the transition to value‐based payments and the expansion of an on‐site Internal medicine service line.
These data resulted in surprising findings, changing the nature of the planned interventions. The data from the chart review enabled creation of two quality improvement projects: (a) a LEAN project to improve the referral process and (b) the creation and implementation of two referral protocols aimed at reducing unnecessary referrals. The application of these protocols was limited to orthopedic and neurosurgery referrals, as the data indicated a significant number could still be appropriately managed by the primary care provider. These interventions were of limited scope. Further research was conducted to investigate evidence‐based interventions and make recommendations for improving referrals on a larger scale.