Tech company Artera adds new feature to revamp how providers complete referrals

By March 22, 2024 May 7th, 2024 News

Artera has spent the past nine years developing tech solutions to solve industrywide pain points and streamline patient communications.

The company, formerly Well Health, has now added new capabilities to rewire how providers complete patient referrals.

The company says its new technology, called Artera Referrals, aids providers struggling with referral leakage and management. Up to 50% of patient referrals to a physician are never completed (PDF), according to data from the American College of Physicians. Providers report that keeping patients in-network and reducing patient referral leakage is a top priority, a recent Definitive Healthcare report found.

The referral process can be challenging, and it’s often a frustrating experience for clinicians and patients. The vast majority of hospitals approach referrals through outbound phone calls or a piece of paper handed to a patient, noted Guillaume de Zwirek, Artera CEO and founder. Or, some providers use an automated system that still puts the onus on the patient to complete the process.

Artera’s tech helps healthcare providers deliver timely patient communications with automated referral outreach, real-time responses to receive, respond and self-schedule appointments and automates pre-visit communications to make sure patients and staff are prepared for the appointment. This, in turn, can help improve patient engagement and loyalty, according to executives.

“Our new capabilities deliver automated, omnichannel referral outreach to quickly convert more patients and generate additional revenue for healthcare providers,” said Zach Wood, senior vice president of product and partner ecosystem at Artera.

Health systems have made big investments in the past few years to build out “digital front doors” for patients. But, in many cases, all these “doors” lead down different hallways, resulting in a fragmented, disjointed experience for patients.

Artera developed a tech solution to solve this industrywide pain point by helping healthcare providers streamline patient communications, minimize message overload and consolidate various channels for personalized messaging. The solution, dubbed Artera Harmony, integrates disparate digital vendors to enable health systems and practices to manage communication workflows from multiple departments and prioritize messaging importance and timing, de Zwirek told Fierce Healthcare last year.

The solution works like an “air traffic controller” for patient messaging, he noted.

The company currently works with more than 700 health systems to facilitate 2.2 billion annual communications for more than 100 million patients.

Artera’s new referral capabilities include features such as configuration and filtering. It receives referral information from the electronic health record and then automates outreach to patients to get them scheduled. Providers can customize referral outreach based on schedule, authorization, priority status and referred location, according to executives.

The tool also enables providers to define the time and send rate of referral messages to avoid overloading call centers and staff, which can help increase conversion rates and create a better patient experience.

Artera also provides seven prebuilt workflow templates, based on industry best practices, to use as is or customize to suit a provider’s unique needs. “A workflow for an imaging study is different from a workflow for a stress test,” de Zwirek noted.

Artera’s referral workflow support also equips healthcare staff with referral performance tracking to easily identify opportunities to increase conversions and see organizational revenue contributions of referral communication.

Providers can tailor and trigger referral messages based on specific needs such as referral created, referral authorization status change and referral scheduling status change. And, healthcare staff can automatically write back information to the EMR including appointment confirmations, cancelations and outreach status.

Artera’s technology provides healthcare staff with more flexibility and automation in the referral workflow. And the technology enables patients to self-schedule their referral appointments, de Zwirek noted. The technology represents a leap forward from the historically manual referral process.

“It’s orchestrated, thoughtful and totally automated workflows that can be customized at the location, at the practice or at the clinic. In practice, it’s an amazing experience for the patient because we can basically guarantee that if they need support, there will be somebody at a referral center who can assist them. And, in many cases, we can automate the entire experience without ever having to pick up the phone or having to make calls to several different doctors to see if they’ll see you,” he said.

The new capabilities are available now to existing and prospective customers and can be integrated and enabled with any EHR, according to the company.

Artera continues to innovate with analytics and generative AI to create technology and tools to streamline patient communications.

“We’re doing a lot around data integration and ingestion. And, we’re doing a lot around new communication modalities. We’re doing some early prototyping in communication channels that don’t exist in healthcare today that could have a lot of value for patients,” de Zwirek said.

He sees opportunities to use small language models, which are generally easier to train, fine-tune and deploy—and also cheaper to run—for specific use cases such as message classification and message summaries.

“So, imagine a patient has been texting back and forth with their doctor for the last 30 days, then when a patient wants to call their doctor to talk to somebody, wouldn’t it be useful if that person who answers the phone has a quick summary of everything you’ve been talking about for the last 30 days over text message?” de Zwirek said.

The Artera team also has been experimenting with using generative AI for language translations to make it easier for healthcare staff to coordinate care no matter what native language the patient speaks, he noted.