How Children’s Hospitals can Stay Connected with Referring Community Providers

Like most healthcare systems today, children’s hospitals are continually seeking new and strategic ways to improve patient care, expand their presence, facilitate growth and alleviate economic pressures. While all hospitals rely on referrals from community-based physicians, children’s hospitals must draw patients from a much broader geographic area than a typical adult care hospital.

According to the Children’s Hospital Association, most dedicated children’s hospitals are the sole regional providers for highly specialized services such as cardiac surgery and transplants, and they offer more than six times the number of services as general hospitals. As such, they can draw from a service area of 100 miles or more.

Given the broad service area, staying connected with referring community providers requires a deliberate strategic approach that facilitates communication and maintains a relationship or “stickiness” with those providers.

Disparate EHRs, call scheduling systems and workflows can make communication across multiple physicians, practices, and locations difficult. Physicians are also inundated with newsletters, emails, and other communication that clog up their emails and mailboxes. It is easy for critical clinical communication to get lost in the shuffle, often resulting in delayed responses and delayed patient care.

This paper explores how two leading children’s hospitals—one “free-standing” and one a children’s “hospital within a hospital” —used an innovative communication strategy to create “stickiness” with community-based physicians, enhance access to their physicians and facilities, improve care and even help address the total cost of care for pediatric patients.