To family doctors and nurse practitioners, this situation is as familiar as the common cold. You have a patient in front of you, and you need to consult a specialist for help, treatment, advice or any combination of the above. Maybe you have a trusted colleague in mind, but what if you don’t? What if the patient lives further away and wants to see someone closer to their home? What if the issue is specific enough that you need to find a sub-specialist, but don’t want to risk sending the referral to someone who does not see patients with that issue? What if your patient is simply struggling with their health issue and you want to find them someone sooner? (Of course, we hope you’ve considered e-consults too.)
As common as these situations are, much like the common cold, they remain unsolved for most of us. You can ask a colleague, but if you don’t know where to send a patient with a colloid cyst in their brain, they likely don’t either. You can check the CPSO, but as we all know, simply being an orthopedic surgeon is no guarantee that they can address your patient’s foot problem. Some LHINs have put together their own directories, but considering the average doctor refers across multiple LHINs, they are fairly limited, stale, and lack wait time information. You can get on the phone and make calls, but aren’t you and your staff busy enough?
It is from these limitations that the ConsultLoop Directory was designed, by family doctors, for family doctors. Here’s how the ConsultLoop Directory takes the stale directories of yesteryear to the next level:
- Practical: We developed a list of questions for each specialty to find out what conditions the specialist focuses on, and common reasons for referrals to be declined. This reduces the risk of having a patient wait weeks only to find out the referral must be redirected.
- Up-to-date: Using the thousands of referrals made each month in our network, we are able to report average wait times, and the average time it takes to reply to a referral request. The use of the directory and our referral platform keeps the information current.
- Centralized: As we receive new information, we update our directory so that is available to all our clients. Did the local hospital open a new clinic? Did the cardiologist down the hall retire? A centralized directory keeps everyone up-to-date without making each clinic find out about changes on their own, or worst case, through a delay and declined referral.
- Searchable & Sortable: Like most directories, you can search by name, description of what services are offered, and geography. However, you can also sort by wait time, and the ConsultLoop Score, a composite measure of how often and how quickly the doctor or clinic replies to referral requests. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Our directory now includes over 5,000 specialists, specialty clinics, and centralized intake lines. Our most recent quarterly wait time update changed the wait time for over 600 specialists, showing that the data must be updated and tended to, like a garden. And of course, we have our team looking after this with dedication and care.
We know that there are many alternatives to the ConsultLoop Directory, but ours is the only one that has practical information on scope of practice, wait times, and is kept updated organically. Why use anything else?