Standardizing the Referral Letter to Improve Care

Brianne N. Hobbs, OD


April 14, 2014

In This Article


What is a potential solution to this gap between expectation and actual performance? Communication. Taking the time to understand what information a specialist most highly values can aid in the creation of a referral form that is essentially a checklist of high-yield components, a strategy that would also expedite the letter-writing process. Including correct contact information for the patient and for the referring doctor is crucial for coordinating care and communicating treatment plans to the referring provider.

Enhanced communication eliminates costly repeat testing and minimizes the implementation of previously ineffective treatments. The list of preferred elements generated by this survey does not include any information that optometrists do not already gather or analyze, so fulfilling these recommendations promotes a seamless transition of care without requiring any additional time or incurring any extra expenses. The first step in communication is bothering to communicate -- advice that, if heeded, will improve the quality of healthcare and promote teamwork among all medical providers.



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