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There Are a Lot of Ways to Get More Physician Referrals. Here Are The Ones That Work.

Gaining new patients through physician referrals is one of the most effective ways to build your practice, but getting those referrals is a job within itself.  In this article, we will talk about how you can boost up these referrals, maintain relationships with other physicians, and grow your practice through targeted marketing to referring physicians.

The key steps to gain and maintain relationships with referring physicians are:

  1. Manage your online reputation.
  2. Identify the people you want to partner with.
  3. Make your referral process a no-brainer.
  4. Learn how you can best help them, and their patients.
  5. Actively maintain personal relationships with referring doctors.
  6. Follow-up.
  7. Gather feedback.

These steps will surely help build and maintain strong referral partners for practices big and small. But, there is no quick-fix. No matter your strategy, approaching referring physician relationships with authenticity is a must for long-term relationship building.

Whether it’s your practice or another doctor’s, patients always come first, increasing your referral means consistently providing a great patient experience.

Automatically gather patient feedback, encourage positive online reviews, and improve your patient experience.

Learn how MedRev can boost your business.

1. Reputation Management is Crucial for Healthcare Referrals

If patients aren’t interested in working with you, referring doctors won’t be either.

Your reputation, both online and off, is crucial to building trust, making a good first impression, and establishing a solid base for ongoing relationships both with patients and referring physicians. But many healthcare professionals from single location practices, to large hospital systems, have yet to jump on the bandwagon with online reputation management.

jump on the bandwagon of healthcare reputation management
Get on the Bandwagon!

Some don’t see the value or can’t find the time, while others just don’t know where to start. No matter the reason, if you’re not paying attention to what people are saying about you online, you’re missing out on referrals, patients, and profit!

So, what should you be doing to manage your healthcare reputation?

  1. Set up a profile on review platforms like Google Places, ZocDoc, HealthGrades, Yelp, and any other platform that is important to your practice. Check out this list of the Top 10 Healthcare Review Sites for more on valuable review platforms.
  2. Read every review left for you online, on every platform.
  3. Respond to every review, good and bad.
  4. Encourage loyal patients to leave reviews on the platforms that matter most to you.
  5. Gather patient feedback offline using an automated patient satisfaction survey so you can better understand your patient experience and address issues privately.
  6. Use social media to stay connected with patients and partners.

A note about social media:

Whether your practice is already all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, or the thought of using social media for your business has never crossed your mind, making sure you have the right approach is imperative.

For more on that, check out our article on how to improve your reputation using social media, and what mistakes to avoid.

2. Identify Physicians You Want to Partner With

The fact of the matter is that not everyone is going to refer to you and that’s okay. Mom always said that it’s better to have a handful of close friends than to have a hundred acquaintances.

When you’re choosing which doctors you’d like to partner with, be choosy.

choosing the right ones for you

It’s going to take time and effort to build a strong relationship so you’ll want to make sure it’s with someone who’s a good match for your practice and your personality.

New relationships as a whole are delicate and need to gain a solid foundation before they can thrive. You should have an internal checklist when meeting new physicians to determine if they would be a good fit for you. 

Evaluate the Referral Relationship Potential

Does he or she…

  • Share your values as a medical practitioner?
  • Provide quality care and customer service to their patients?
  • Communicate clearly and effectively?
  • Work in a specialty that often refers to practices like you?

Find Common Ground

Not all successful practices are run the same way and some other physicians may not have a pleasing personality to you, but they can still share your values and hold themselves to a high ethical standard.  Identifying this common ground with other doctors is essential for a lasting relationship. If you find that some of your referring doctors are deviating from your core values, it’s time to carefully consider whether this partnership is right for you.

Associate with Skilled Physicians

While sharing values is important, it can’t compensate for a poor patient experience.

Take a look at the physician’s reputation online and ask other doctors about their experience working with him or her.

  • Is the physician skilled in their specialization?
  • Do they thoroughly read over patient notes to get the full story?
  • How is their bedside manner?
  • Do they have trouble with patient retention?
  • Are patients regularly upset with the provider or their office?
  • Are other providers or their offices giving this physician negative reviews?

Every doctor’s got a few patients that get upset or go elsewhere, but if they are having trouble with patient retention, that bad juju is likely to rub off on you.

My favorite cliche question to ask is, “Would you send your own mother to this doctor’s office?” If the answer is no, then you should probably move along. 

If you’ve lost some patients yourself, check out our 8 Most Effective Patient Retention Strategies.

The character of the physician

Finally, your best referral partners are going to be the ones who can openly communicate with you and your patients. Not only is it important for understanding the type of patient care needed, but when things go wrong or their schedule gets backed up, you want to be working with physicians that will keep you informed.

Honesty trumps over promising, especially when it comes to maintaining relationships over the long haul.

3. Simplify Your Physician Referral Process

If you’re looking for ways to get more physician referrals, you have to take a close look at your referral process. No one likes filling out tedious or repetitive paperwork, especially busy physicians.

Even if a referring physician adores you, they, and their team are not going to like spending 20 minutes on the phone with your or your office for every patient they send your way.

If your referral process is time-consuming, frustrating, or just plain clunky, your referring partners are quickly going to find someone else who makes it easy for them.

messy stack of referral paperwork

Patient Details

Don’t make your partners sit on the phone reading off patient details or fax you the same information over and over again. Invest in a secure online provider referral portal where they can send you referral information through a HIPAA compliant system with as little added effort as possible.

Worried about your patient information getting in the hands of the wrong people? Check out our article 12 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach in a Healthcare Practice.

4. Help Them Help You Help Them

Work to understand what is important to your referring partners and their patients.

Providers know the challenges you face every day in your practice, specialty or otherwise. Maybe it’s a high level of empathy, maybe it’s the ease of scheduling, maybe it’s your proximity to their office, maybe it’s your office’s timeliness sending out results? Maybe it’s all of this and more. By understanding what your referring partners are really looking for in a specialist, you can better serve both them and their patients.

5. Actively Maintain Personal Relationships With Referring Doctors

Don’t take your referring providers for granted, take them out to lunch.

You could also drop by with a frappuccino for them, write them a random thank you card, or call them up just to check in and see how their families are doing.

maintain relationships with referring physicians

There are countless small gestures of appreciation you can offer and they make a big difference. You don’t have to do anything over the top, but making a continual effort to show your referring physicians that you value their partnership and have a genuine interest in the wellbeing of their team and loved ones is essential to maintaining a strong relationship.

6. Follow Up With Your Referring Physicians

Your referring providers are invested in their patients’ health, and so are you.

Don’t leave them hanging!

Don’t count on the patient to follow up and don’t assume that your referral partner has everything they need from your team.

Did you know? 40% of patients that follow through with a referral never follow-up with the referring physician after the care is initially provided

After you see a referral patient, check-in with the referring physician to see that they received any test results and paperwork you have for them or if they have any questions for you about the healthcare you provided their patient.

7. Gather Feedback From Your Partners

Learning what your most valuable offerings are to your referring physicians is an ongoing process.

Checking in with your referring partners regularly to get feedback on your referral process and the feedback they are receiving from their patients and staff about working with you and your team.

mixed feedback from doctors

Not only will it show them that their opinion of your practice matters to you. It will help you to pinpoint areas of your practice that need to be re-assessed. Once you have feedback, actively work toward improvements in your practice to provide the best care and service possible.

If You’re Looking for Ways to Get More Physician Referrals for a Specialty Practice, Look No Further

Don’t neglect your most valuable professional relationships. By putting in the effort to build, maintain, and improve your reputation and relationships with referring providers, you can ensure that your practice is supported by your referral partners and your community.

By building a strategy using these seven ways to get more physician referrals, you won’t have to fork out a bunch of cash for advertising or masking your reputation to increase your bottom line. We’ve covered the most ethical and effective ways to gain referrals both now and in the future. Remember, the key to gaining trust from patients and doctors is to maintain a favorable reputation through excellent patient experiences.

Automatically gather patient feedback, encourage positive online reviews, and improve your patient experience.

Learn more about MedRev, the reputation management system built for doctors, by doctors.