Best communication practices for subspecialty referrals
Professional communication, now more than ever, is central to chronic disease management. Most patients with chronic disease will have numerous healthcare providers who contribute to their care, including the patient’s primary care health team, disease subspecialists, and possibly allied health professionals.
To provide the best possible patient-centered care, coordination and communication among the healthcare team is paramount. A lack of either can result in missed handoffs and may blur the lines of responsibility for each aspect of care.
I have had the honor to serve both as a primary care physician and as a diabetes specialist. This has allowed me to see the keys to patient communication from multiple sides. I have the greatest respect for primary care providers who have to handle the entirety of a patient’s health, and will not only manage many medical problems at one time but also balance them in the context of family, community, and culture. Similarly, the subspecialist’s knowledge and in-depth experience of rarer forms of diabetes and its complications are critical to proving the optimal patient care.
Below, I have summarized a few key considerations for the generalist and the specialist, which I believe will help get the best out of any diabetes-related referral.