Just last week, we reached a major milestone at ConsultLoop. Our network of physicians has sent over 20,000 e-referrals through our platform. We’re thrilled with this for a few reasons, and look to the future with the same enthusiasm as a graduation day.
For a company started by three front-line family physicians, this is all about patients. We started this company because we kept talking about the same problems again and again when it came to patient referrals – how can we find the right resources, how can we have insight into wait times, how can we increase safety so referrals don’t fall through the cracks, and how can we make a better experience where patients are so often thrust in a passive and anxious role? By reaching 20,000 referrals, we have transformed the care journey for thousands of patients. Gone are the 21% of fax-based referrals that get lost. Gone are the days of phone tag communication with offices. This is a big impact in safety and experience, and patients seem to agree.
By reaching 20,000 referrals, we accomplished something important as a business – we learned a ton. You can’t reach a number like this by doing one thing and keeping course. You have to listen to customers, understand the real-life constraints users face, and make changes along the way. We had to be agile, responding quickly and creatively to challenges with customers, competitors and business pressures. There are many examples of amazing things about our service that came out of this close, listening relationship: our directory of 5,000 specialists, capturing the time to reply to a referral, creating videos, posters, and even material in other languages, among many other things. And let’s be frank – doing these things does not mean we have enjoyed a parade of success. There have been challenges and failures, but our ability to get to this milestone means we have been able to meet them and react with ambition rather than retreat quietly.
Now that we’ve reached 20,000 referrals, what’s next? This is a great question and one we are very excited about. We still need to grow our network, continue expansion into more communities and build upon our current software – that job will never end. However, we are now in a position to do some really impactful things. For example, our data on wait times has tremendous value for measuring access and resource planning around health services in communities. We have used our data for good too, in measuring a gender bias in referral patterns following discussions on Twitter. We want to continue with this. But more importantly, we see a key asset as an area for future growth – our relationship with patients.
We believe that for any health care entity – company, clinic or institution – to have an impact and a future, it must serve patients well. We know patients are satisfied with getting referrals through ConsultLoop. However, we have tons of ideas on how to improve their journey during a referral, as well as before it and after it. We have created a small, focused digital link between patients and their physicians’ offices, and see many opportunities to expand that into other areas of communication, data access, and other ways to shine light on the shadows of uncertainty, apprehension and disempowerment that can sometimes affect patients.
As we look to our next chapters, we will remain true to ourselves – practicing physicians who care for our patients, our colleagues, and for our publicly-funded system. We will celebrate having reached this milestone of 20,000 referrals, and all the lessons we’ve learned. Today, we set our sights on improving other aspects of the health care journey, and it will be done through the patient. We will have some exciting announcements in the coming months in important areas such as mental health, and in the patient experience with our software. We know we can’t do this without a robust, trusting and empathetic relationship with patients, and many patients have inspired us on Twitter and in real life. We look forward to working with patients in co-design, advisory capacities, and to be inspired by their stories and experiences. We look forward to our next achievements. We look forward to the new chapter in ConsultLoop’s journey, and in healthcare’s journey, that we will write together.