Blog Post

Why Physical Therapy Providers Should Prioritize Connectivity with Referral Partners

Therapy providers should prioritize connectivity because direct secure messaging adoption is on the rise as well as DSM's other benefits for modern practices. 

Mike Willee
5 min read
September 14, 2023
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In 2023, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with people you know personally and professionally; there are about a dozen ways on your phone alone and more than a few options available on your laptop. Unfortunately, rehab therapists can struggle with connectivity, especially with the providers they partner with for referrals. Granted, there are a few more considerations that healthcare professionals need to consider regarding the channels they can use, but there’s still no excuse for rehab therapists to be so far behind the times—particularly in the age of Direct Secure Messaging (DSM). To meet the demands of modern patients—and the expectations of other clinicians—you should prioritize connectivity and make DSM a part of your practice.

If you’ve been on the fence about upping your communication game to add DSM, here are a few ways to increase your connectivity with your fellow providers to benefit your work, your staff, and your patients.  

It makes capturing referrals easier. 

If you had a friend who only wanted to talk via letters sent through the mail, you’d probably be less inclined to stay in touch with them—mailing a letter is a lot more work, after all. The same applies to clinicians who refer patients to providers hung up on faxes. Given the choice between two or more providers, referring clinicians will probably opt to send patients to the one that makes the referral process easier with DSM rather than having to fax over all the paperwork. 

In fact, an increasing number of physicians and other referring providers are choosing to work only with DSM-enabled practices for patient referrals. So, if you want to keep the stream of referrals from drying up, you should get on the same page as other providers and get DSM in your practice.  

It makes things easier for patients, too.

In a perfect world, patients wouldn’t be impacted by the administrative goings-on of their healthcare providers. But as we’ve seen too often, patients are the ones who suffer the most from the lack of connectivity between clinicians. Transitions of care and care coordination are two concepts vital to optimized outcomes for patients, and both rely heavily on clinicians being able to efficiently share information so that patients can get the proper care at the right time. 

Unfortunately, that level of coordination can be challenging if providers try to navigate different communication methods.  Moreover, delays in treatment due to paperwork are more likely to urge modern, consumer-oriented patients to seek a different provider. Therapy providers should prioritize connectivity and make the switch to DSM to get in sync with a growing number of other providers; according to this survey, 34% of all roles in healthcare use DSM as their primary means of communication, with 39% of physicians and 45% of nurses preferring DSM.  With DSM, you can eliminate the barriers to effective coordination that ultimately serve as roadblocks to patients.     

It streamlines your operations and saves money.

Better connectivity with other providers can also benefit your operations and workflows—specifically, the work done at the front desk. If you’re still using faxes, you’re putting a lot of extra work on the plates of your front office staff during a time when they’re feeling the strain of burnout, as well. Not only that, but printing and scanning documents comes with a tangible cost—both in terms of labor hours and the cost of ink, paper, and machine maintenance. With DSM, you can easily import the documentation sent from another provider and link it with a patient’s chart in minutes—freeing up your front office to focus on your patients. 

In addition to savings on expenses, therapy providers should prioritize connectivity to cut down on referral leakage—those unfortunate instances when patients opt to go out of network rather than sticking with a referral, with convenience being one of the main reasons. DSM can help reduce leakage by improving care coordination and making referrals more easily trackable for your staff. With DSM, you can keep tabs on those who haven’t yet scheduled an appointment and have your staff follow up.   

It safeguards protected health information (PHI).

It might be more of an added bonus than anything, but improving your messaging capabilities by switching to DSM can also do a lot for your security. Whatever your processes are around faxes, there’s always the chance of PHI accidentally making it to where unauthorized people might catch a glimpse. And the penalties and fines for HIPAA violations are nothing your practice wants to learn about firsthand. 

Fortunately, DSM is not only an easier and better way to message other providers, but it’s also the most secure method of transmitting PHI. DSM uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to encrypt your messages, ensuring that only intended recipients can view the files you’re sending. Using DSM also enables you to use an audit trail to alleviate any worries about who is accessing your messages. It’s yet another reason therapy providers should prioritize connectivity and security with DSM. 

Strengthening the lines of communication with other providers isn’t just about the frequency of interactions—it’s also about the convenience that makes that increased communication possible. Providers also need communication tools that meet the security standards that patients and regulators expect to keep their private information secure. Fortunately, DSM allows clinicians to check all those boxes and ditch the fax machines in favor of the preferred choice of a growing number of providers. 


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