ReferralMD Interview Series: Rick Hammer, Co-Founder and CPO

Examining The Need for Better Communication in Healthcare with Rick Hammer, Chief Product Officer of ReferralMD

We’re happy to announce a new interview series that examines and discusses emerging topics in the healthcare world. All interviews will be made available on ReferralMD’s top ranked healthcare blog.

This interview is with ReferralMD’s Chief Product Officer, Rick Hammer. Rick has over 20 years of experience in delivering technology solutions, partnerships, and services for healthcare providers. With experience building EHRs across care settings and platforms to manage provider referrals and care coordination, Rick now focuses on solutions to help improve patient access and reduce patient leakage.


What made you join ReferralMD? 

ReferralMD is uniquely positioned to solve the industry-wide problem of poor communication between health providers in different organizations. The powerful platform facilitates online collaboration, streamlines workflow with decision support, and provides tools to quickly integrate with existing EHRs.


How do you feel your previous experiences have contributed to your work at ReferralMD? 

Solving the industry’s current patient access challenges requires knowledge of current referral and scheduling processes, patient flow across care settings, and administrative, clinical and billing workflows within facilities and medical practices. Along with a deep understanding of the healthcare industry, my product background allows me to find new ways to leverage technology to solve the patient access challenges by focusing on collaboration, workflow, decision support and analytics. At ReferralMD, we have developed a secure communication platform to facilitate collaboration and file exchange among staff and providers, automated steps in the process to streamline workflow, decision support tools within the workflow to improve outcomes, and powerful analytics and visualizations to improve visibility into key operating metrics.


What are some of the main issues that ReferralMD is attempting to address with their software? 

Our focus is to connect the patient with the right provider at the right time. To accomplish this, we need to address a multitude of issues in the referral process today. To start, referrals from PCPs are typically sent to providers via fax with no upfront review. For example, questions that arise include: does the provider accept the patient’s insurance, is the provider close to the patient, what is the average wait time for the provider, and how does the provider rate in terms or quality and service?

So we try to arm the PCP with more information about the specialist prior to the referral through our SmartMATCH technology. As 55% of referrals are deemed unnecessary, we provide the ability for PCPs to discuss a case securely online and then send the referral electronically if necessary.


What specific challenges do your healthcare clients face? 

The biggest issue for our larger customers is patient leakage. Health systems lose anywhere between 55-65% of their patients to competing providers in their communities. Most of the time patients can be retained through our SmartMATCH technology which arms PCPs with the necessary information they need to make more informed decisions when referring online with ReferralMD. In addition, all of our customers benefit from improved operational efficiencies related to the referral process since today’s manual, error-prone process is replaced with automated workflow tools to streamline the process resulting in a time savings of 1½ hours per staff member per day.


Why is it important to improve communication among healthcare organizations? 

Let’s face it, healthcare staff and providers are busy keeping up with their mounting administrative, clinical, and billing responsibilities every day. EHRs do a good job at managing the workflow within the facility or office but things start breaking down when the healthcare team tries collaborating with providers outside of their organization. That’s because the current method for communication across organizations is either through fax or by phone. Faxing takes time and faxed pages can become illegible or lost. Phone calls also take time as you wait on hold or get bounced around the office trying to speak to the right person.

We solved this problem by offering a secure online messaging system that allows staff to exchange messages and files online at any time to avoid picking up the phone or sending a fax. In addition, our e-consults system allows providers to converse securely online about a specific case and exchange files (labs, radiology reports, medication lists, etc.) which helps prevent unnecessary referrals. We also automate the communication feedback loop with referring providers by sending status updates about their referred patients within the application in real-time or via weekly faxed reports. This process reinforces the relationship and trust between providers leading to better reputations in the market and more referrals being sent.


What are customers looking for in a referral management software?

Customers sign up for ReferralMD because they want to solve key business challenges related to patient access and referral management. The only way customers can solve these challenges is if our system is fully adopted by both their staff and their providers. With ReferralMD, we achieve 100% user adoption because our cloud system is modern, easy to use, intuitive, and fast.  In addition, we can operate as a stand-alone system or fully integrate with the customer’s EHR to drive an even more streamlined process.


Talk us through your product. How has it changed over time? 

The ReferralMD platform was built on the most modern and secure technology in the cloud. Our powerful platform allows us to rapidly deploy new features while maintaining our unparalleled user experience. We continue to build upon the four pillars of our product vision – collaboration, workflow, decision support, and analytics – while looking for new ways to innovate and deliver value to our customers. Our newest features include a more robust SmartMATCH technology, additional e-consult collaboration tools, more powerful task notification features, and new analytics focused on marketing. You can see all of our features by visiting our website at


Where do you see the healthcare technology industry moving? 

The transition from fee-for-service toward value-based care will continue to put emphasis on building provider networks that can deliver higher quality care at lower costs. This will require improved patient access, deeper operational efficiencies and better insight into quality, revenue, and cost metrics. By effectively managing their provider networks, improving patient access to their services and collaborating better with staff and providers, ReferralMD customers are well positioned to succeed in the value-based care market.


Thank you for your time.


This Interview is Brought to You By ReferralMD: The Leading Enterprise Patient Access Platform
ReferralMD improves collaboration and patient access between health systems by providing communication tools with clinical decision support for expedited physician-to-physician (P2P) e-consults and referrals

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