At Village Family Practice, a primary care practice based in the Houston area, referrals are analyzed by the number of referrals per 100 visits made to each specialty per primary care physician. In an initial analysis of referrals, the expectation was that gastroenterology, cardiology, and orthopedics would have a high volume of referrals. What wasn’t anticipated was the high volume of referrals seen in such lower-acuity specialties as endocrinology, dermatology, nephrology, and neurology.
These findings prompted Village Family Practice to create referral guidelines and workups for its physicians to use before making a referral, with the primary aim of helping physicians better understand when referrals might not be necessary and when care instead could be provided in the primary care setting.
This approach has been successfully adopted at practices throughout VillageMD, the primary care network of which Village Family Practice. By tracking these analytics and applying them, the organization has been able to significantly change referral patterns and volumes within its practices, yielding greater cost efficiency in the referral program.