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Closer Look: Easy, HIPAA-Compliant Referrals

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report August 2021
Volume 55
Issue 8

This paperless referral management solution from Refera makes it easier to follow patient care from specialists and ensure patients return to your practice for follow-up care.

When Bloom Dental Group in San Mateo, California, made the switch to become a paperless office, they knew it was time to start implementing a new process for referrals, too.

“We were using paper referrals previously, and it could be an unorganized, tedious process, especially for a busy practice,” says Patti Bolander, director of operations at Bloom Dental Group. “What you would have to do is rifle through a bunch of papers to find the right specialist you’re looking for, and then handwrite a copy, give that copy to the patient, scan and email a copy to the referral office, and email an x-ray.”

Patti Bolander, director of operations at Bloom Dental Group.

Patti Bolander, director of operations at Bloom Dental Group.

Looking to streamline the process and keep everything organized, Bloom Dental Group starting using Refera, a paperless referral management system. The online platform allows dentists to refer patients to any other practice via a system that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Rather than having to place a paper referral in a patient’s chart, Bolander says, she can easily use Refera to refer a patient to any specialist.

“Whether it’s perio-, endo-, or orthodontics, or oral surgery, it’s all organized there for you. They list all your old referrals, too. It makes things really easy and organized and much more streamlined,” she says.

The easy-to-use system allows dentists to refer a patient with just a few clicks. Refera provides a list of specialists currently available. After the doctor selects a patient to refer, the system automatically populates the referralwith the individual’s information.

Refera, a paperless referral management system


Refera is an online platform that allows practices to refer patients to any other practice. It also enables practices to receive referrals from other practices via a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant system that includes attachments and the ability to track referred patients. This helps ensure that patients receive prescribed care and that no potential patients slip through the cracks.




“All I need to do is click a button and send the x-ray. It’s fantastic,” she says.

Refera also keeps things organized on the patient’s end. Rather than having to keep track of the paper referral or find the right phone number to contact the specialist’s office, the patient receives a text message, email, or both after the digital referral has been created. The message contains all the specialist’s information as well as the appointment time and date. Any updates or notifications are also sent to the patient digitally.

Bolander says patient feedback has been very positive.

“It’s just so much easier for the patient, and they appreciate it,” she says. “I think it’s extremely helpful for the patient in the sense that they don’t have a paper referral they need to make sure gets to the office. It’s also easy for them to refer back to since the information is right in their pocket.”

Once a referral has been sent, the system tracks the progress so the dentist knows when the patient has scheduled an appointment with the specialist and whether treatment has been completed. Checking back with the patient and tracking the referral’s status from beginning to end is simple, according to Bolander.

“If we’re trying to follow up with a patient who had treatment in another office and we need to bring them back in, I can easily go into Refera and see what they had done. It shows me when and where the appointment was so that I can coordinate treatment on our end once they’re done,” she says.

Although the free version of Refera allows dentists to send and receive referrals, transfer documents, view referral status, and more, the premium version takes things a step further by integrating with practice management software. This helps to ensure that all the patient information is complete, which streamlines the workflow and makes scheduling a lot easier.

“A lot of times there’s human error. You may not get a copy of that referral, or the referral doesn’t make it to the office with the patient. It’s nice to have everything organized online and just be able to refer to 1 place and know all the information is there,” she says.

The premium version also provides actionable insights. Dentists can create plans for practice growth and find new revenue opportunities with weekly reporting and intelligent dashboard features provided by Refera.

“Refera has absolutely changed things for our practice,” Bolander says. “It’s really just a win-win for everyone. This was much needed in the industry.”

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