Setting Communication Terms

Lesson 3 of 5

Proper communication between the staff and the specialist is necessary for a smooth flowing clinic.

Open Communication Between Providers

Women on phone at computer

Sometimes there may be a need to speak to the specialist without the patient present. You should ask if that’s acceptable and if there is a cost associated.

Ask “Can the referring site provider call or videoconference the specialist before or after the consult?”

Chart Turnaround

Set an expectation upfront with the specialist and hold them accountable to timely completion and transmission of all consult notes after the completed visit.  This is not only important for the maintenance of provider to provider communication for continuity of patient care, but for billing purposes as well. Some specialty service providers require the originating site to access their EHR to pull down chart notes for each patient (more work for the referring site) and others will agree to document directly into your EHR (more work for the specialty site).

Ask “What is the turnaround time on charts being returned, and how will they be sent?”

Staff Communication

Address what type of communication (text, email, and phone) is expected when either the staff has a question, or if the specialist needs the staff to step in the room at any time during the consult.  This information is useful in order to provide the coordinator the proper tools for a smooth flowing clinic.  Oftentimes clinic coordinators are not issued cell phones, or the room where the telemedicine equipment is located isn’t near a station that’s equipped with a desk phone or computer (for email and phone call communication).

Ask “How will staff communicate with the specialists during the visits, if they are not present in the room with the patient?”

Acceptable Correspondence

Discuss if calls, emails, text messages, or flags in patient charts are acceptable, and if these items be communicated directly or only through a third party (such as a scheduler, coordinator, or receptionist).

Ask “What type of correspondence is acceptable between the referring and specialty sites?”