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Referral Coordinator Duties and Responsibilities

The referral coordinator's duties largely depend on the office they work in, but based on postings that we analyzed, most share several core responsibilities:

Coordinate Referral Appointments The primary duty of a referral coordinator is working with patients to arrange and schedule referral appointments. Depending on the office, this can include providing patients with referrals to other care providers, managing incoming patient referrals, or both. Referral coordinators set appointments, send reminders, and provide patients with information about referral appointments.

Maintain and Update Patient Records Referral coordinators ensure that patient records are up to date and kept in accordance with laws and regulations. These records may include information from other care providers, detailed information on procedures and tests conducted within the office, and records of patient ailments and treatments. Additionally, the referral coordinator may provide these records to other care providers.

Verify Patient Insurance Information Many referral coordinators work closely with patients and insurance providers to gather and verify insurance information. They may call or email insurance representatives to verify patient coverage and enrollment information, check to make sure that procedures are covered by the patient's insurance, and verify copay amounts and billing information that the office sends to the insurance company for reimbursement.

Provide Administrative Support In addition to supporting referral activities, most referral coordinators also provide general administrative and clerical support to medical offices. These tasks can include answering phone calls and emails, managing schedules, and maintaining electronic or paper files and records. They may also check to make sure doctors and nurses have necessary supplies and patient records prior to appointments.

Answer Patient Questions Because they frequently interact directly with patients, referral coordinators regularly assist patients by answering questions and resolving issues that may arise during the course of an office visit. In this aspect of the role, the referral coordinator ensures that patients have the information necessary to make critical care decisions and may provide information to patient caretakers in accordance with HIPAA.


Referral Coordinator Skills and Qualifications

Referral coordinators balance administrative and patient service tasks to support quality care. Medical offices typically hire candidates with at least a high school diploma, experience with customer service within a medical or insurance setting, and the following skills:
  • Time management - referral coordinators must be highly organized and able to manage schedules for multiple patients and doctors, ensuring that schedules are up to date and that patient appointments are entered correctly
  • Attention to detail - most referral coordinators work with patient information that can include medical histories and insurance information, so they should be detail oriented and focused on maintaining accurate patient information
  • Customer service - referral coordinators interact directly with patients, so they should have strong customer service skills and the ability to answer patient questions and resolve issues
  • Computer skills - in this role, referral coordinators work with computers to connect patients to resources and other care providers, so they should have some clerical and computer skills
  • Communication skills - referral coordinators are liaisons between patients and care providers, so effective written and verbal communication skills are a necessity

Referral Coordinator Education and Training

Referral coordinators typically need a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, at least one year of experience in a medical or health insurance field can help applicants secure a referral coordinator position. Because referral coordinators frequently interact with patients, customer service experience is also helpful in this role, particularly if that experience is in a medical setting. There are significant opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as the referral coordinator gains experience with managing patient referrals. Many medical offices also look for bilingual referral coordinators to better serve a diverse patient base.

Referral Coordinator Salary and Outlook

Both Glassdoor and PayScale have gathered data related to referral coordinator salaries. According to Glassdoor, referral coordinators earn an average annual income of $30,740 based on 162 reported salaries. PayScale's findings, based on 455 reported salaries, are very similar, with an average hourly rate of $14.80, which is $30,784 per year for full-time employment. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment outlook information specifically for referral coordinators, its findings indicate that healthcare occupations as a whole will increase by 18 percent through 2026.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found a number of resources if you'd like to learn more about the role of the referral coordinator: "Referral Management" - this in-depth resource illustrates how to effectively coordinate and manage patient referrals to improve outcomes and ensure that patients receive quality care

Primary Care: A Collaborative Practice - read this book to learn how the referral process fits into primary care and helps patients get the help they need

"Simple Tools to Increase Patient Satisfaction with the Referral Process" - this blog post provides referral coordinators with valuable information and advice on improving the referral process and enhancing patient relationships

Referral Development for Healthcare - this book examines referrals from a marketing perspective, exploring how an effective referral program supports healthy practices and builds a robust patient base

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