These simple practices will increase consult requests and maximize your time.
In the past several months, we’ve seen consult numbers increase as awareness of phone consult has increased. As practitioners learn that it is possible to consult with specialists whenever it’s needed, a further increase in requests is likely.
We’ve learned that a few simple practices can increase the number of phone consult requests you receive. Adhering to these practices can fill your calendar and generate the income you want from phone consults.
Update your biography and have a photo
Did you know that you can add a biography and photo to your profile? That way, physicians and nurse practitioners will know a bit about you before they send a consult. It can also help you receive consults that are more specific to your area of expertise.
Adding a biography and profile photo is simple. Login to your portal, select the Account tab. Scroll to the bottom of the screen. Under Public Profile Info you can update your Bio. Under Public Profile Picture you can upload a photo of yourself.
Be available at the busiest times
You already have a schedule that involves clinics, teaching, committees and other commitments. Look for gaps in between meetings, on a drive between clinic sites, or on the drive to or from work. Sometimes these gaps might be prime time for phone consults.
Family physicians and nurse practitioners tend to book most consults during midday, at the end of the day or early in the morning (before clinic starts). So if you have time available during those windows, consider making yourself available. Remember, you can make yourself available for as long or as little as you like. If all you have is ten minutes, then you can block off a ten minute slot. That ten minute slot may be exactly what a family doctor is looking for.
Block off a lot of time
There is a strategy that works for specialists who are busy, but have practices where stepping out of the room for 5-10 minutes isn’t disruptive. If this fits with your practice, you might consider making yourself available for larger periods of time. While you might not get fully filled up, you will get more consult requests. It’s no coincidence that specialists with the most availability also get the most consult requests.
Keep your buffer low
You control how far in advance people must book consults with you. We call this the consult buffer. Your buffer can be as short as one hour, which means people can book a 2 p.m. consult at 1p.m. Lowering your consult buffer is an effective method of getting more consults.
To adjust your buffer login to your portal, click the Account tab. Then click Preferences. Here you can adjust you buffer duration.
Be open to reconsulting
Being part of Virtual Hallway means being part of a community of practitioners. Over time you will develop clinical relationships with colleagues from around the province. Specialists often get repeat consults from the same practitioners because they have built solid working relationships.
However, you may also get repeat consults on the same patients you have consulted about. This is a feature that allows continuity of care. Sometimes more than one call is needed to get a patient along the right path. A lot of specialists encourage family physicians and nurse practitioners to reconsult if the recommendations made in the call or not effective, or if the clinical situation changes.
You might even consider including a line to that effect in your note. This lets the family doctor or nurse practitioner know that you want to hear from them again.
Notify your waitlist
Specialists have waitlists and you’re likely no different. Consider letting people who send traditional referrals to you know that you’re also available for phone consults. In a lot of cases, many of those patients’ problems might be fully addressed by a phone consult and not need to see you for the traditional referral.
Many specialists inform referral sources that they are available for phone consults. When these specialists receive a traditional referral, they will send a note (usually by fax) to the referral source that their patient is on their waitlist.
Along with that note they also inform them that they are available more quickly for phone consults on Virtual Hallway.
This gives the referral source an extra option to more quickly help their patient.