Remove Referral Barriers

When you are working with a patient to refer him or her to treatment, it is vital that you assist the patient in accessing treatment.

overcome problemsIt is probable that your knowledge-base of treatment options and service providers is more substantial than the patient’s and that sharing this knowledge in order to provide an array of options will greatly facilitate this process.

  • Discuss a range of treatment options .
  • Identify programs and providers by name and have contact information available.
  • Assist the patient in making the first appointment by sitting with them while they make the initial call.
  • Call the insurance company with patient present to determine payment and next steps.
  • Prepare the patient to address insurance and payment for treatment by providing contact information for insurer and for any local authority overseeing access to treatment.

What’s Brief Treatment?

When handling referral to treatment, or ongoing treatment yourself, you may hear about something called “Brief Treatment.” Brief treatment is distinct from SBIRT’s brief interventions (BI) and is not the same as referral to treatment.

Brief treatment is a distinct level of care and is inherently different from both brief intervention and specialist treatment. Brief treatment is provided to those seeking or already engaged in treatment who acknowledge problems related to substance use. Brief treatment in relation to traditional or specialist treatment has increased intensity and is of shorter duration. It consists of a limited number of highly focused and structured clinical sessions with the purpose of eliminating hazardous and/or harmful substance use.

Generally, you will not be expected to determine whether a patient needs brief treatment or traditional specialty treatment. That will be determined by an addiction specialist after the patient receives further assessment.

The RT Nutshell

Will your patient benefit from referral to more specialized care? If so, which care? Will they take advantage of the referral?

In the end, RT is a behavior change: Knowing patient stage of change can help you foster the change, remove barriers, and facilitate the referral. Generating options, choosing from them, jointly developing a plan to implement them, and getting the patient to overtly endorse the plan “Yes, I will…” can make the difference between an referral offer that is accepted and acted upon and one that languishes.