It’s Easy to Get More Physician Referrals If You Have The Right Strategy
Patient referrals from other local physicians are one of the most effective ways to build your practice, but getting those referrals is a job within itself. In this article, we will discuss ways to get more physician referrals, maintain relationships with other physicians, and grow your patient base.
Don’t miss out on new referrals because of a few negative reviews!
Create a Great Reputation For Your Practice
No one wants to recommend a restaurant that is notorious for bland or overcooked food to their friends. It’s the same with any business. If another doctor looks you up online only to find a bunch of 1 and 2-star reviews, they will certainly think twice about sending their patients your way. Not only will a bad reputation make new providers steer clear of you, but it can also cost you referrals from the doctors who are (or were) sending patients to you.
The first step toward building and maintaining a steady stream of patient referrals is to implement effective strategies to build up your positive online reviews.
Even if you already have a dozen or so good reviews, just a couple bad ones could mean a big hit for your online reputation. Building up your positive reviews in an ethical and honest fashion will not only make you look like the medical rockstar you are, it will protect your rating from taking a big hit from future bad reviews.
Identify Physicians You Want to Partner With
Your patients trust you, so who you refer them to is a reflection of your business as well as the other physician’s. If you want to get more physician referrals, you have to acknowledge it’s a two-way street. If you don’t want to send your patients to one physician, then don’t waste your time trying to get them to send you theirs. New relationships as a whole are delicate and need to have a solid foundation before they can thrive.
You should have an internal checklist when meeting new physicians to determine if they would be good to work with. Do they:
- Share your values as a medical practitioner?
- Provide quality care and customer service to their patients?
- Communicate clearly and effectively?
Obviously, 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, then that would be a good time to have a conversation or cut them loose.
While sharing values is important, it can’t compensate for consistently putting patients through a bad experience. Is the physician skilled in their specialization? Do they thoroughly read over patient notes to get the full story? How is their bedside manner? All of these have an effect on the patient’s experience and this extends to the front office, as well.
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 the answer is yes, then great! Get her over there for an appointment so she can tell them how great you are!
You’ll Know Your Best Referral Partners When You Find Them
Your ideal 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.
Some of these points can be identified from a google search while others may take a few months to figure out, but you won’t be able to answer these questions until you get yourself out there! Chances are you already know the physicians you want to work with. Now it is a matter of letting them know.
Communicate With Referring Doctors
One of the best things you can do to promote your practice and get more physician referrals is to communicate with local medical providers. Building, improving, and maintaining relationships with doctors in your area is one of the best ways to keep your office growing.
It’s no secret that communication builds and maintains relationships. Sure you can talk about your newest location or your state of the art PMS or equipment, but don’t make the conversation just about you. Whether you’re visiting in person, talking on the phone, or sending out referral emails, make sure to ask your potential referring partners about their needs.
If you ask the right questions, the future referring physicians will tell you how you can meet their needs. Remember, the one thing that everyone wants to talk about is themselves. So, ask open-ended questions and let them talk!
Some questions to consider asking:
- How is business going?
- Any issues with getting your exams recently?
- What can we do better?
- How are things changing for your practice?
- What are some of your biggest problems right now?
- What is most important to when you’re choosing a practice to refer patients to?
It may seem oversimplified, but taking the time to call other physicians to follow up shows that you really care about the patients you both work so hard to help.
If they send you a patient and the chart doesn’t tell you the whole story, don’t guess, ask.
You don’t want to get into the habit of assuming what the other doctor was doing as that can lead to incorrect tests, and treatment, as well as damage your reputation.
A phone call to check in during a slower time of the week or month shows them you are more than just another doctor sending patients. You can take this time to consult with each other on work, collaborate on a new idea, or just to see how their family is doing. It can take 5 minutes and can deepen their trust in you as a person.
Also, if visiting all of the local offices in person isn’t a viable option, a quick call is a fantastic gesture. It doesn’t seem like much, but the sound of an actual person’s voice initiates a personal relationship significantly more than a signature on a patient’s chart.
Give Them Something They’ll Remember
This is an old-school tactic that won’t come as a surprise to most practice managers. But, we need to talk about this one since it’s still effective if you do it right.
It’s not about grand gestures, it’s about the little things.
Personally, I’m a sucker for those homemade Peanut Butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kisses on top. A homemade batch of baked goods always brightens the office’s day and makes your presence at their office more welcomed. It might sound like a hassle to bake cookies, but you can always make a day of it, get the kids involved and make a hundred or so in about an hour. I would dare to guess that your kids will probably not be upset to spend a Saturday afternoon making (and eating) fresh baked cookies.
Don’t just focus on the doctors, think of the front desk staff.
A medical office’s front desk staff often has a lot of sway in where their patients end up getting referred. Small items like notepads, calendars, and pens provide something they can use every day – while keeping your name top of mind.
Little gestures can go a long way toward letting the staff know you’re thinking of them and you’d like them to think of you too. Just make sure you are not spending a ton of cash in your efforts, otherwise, you could get into some dangerous territory with the Stark law.
If you’re not so keen on giving something physical to a provider or their office, don’t worry. You can always give out information. Whether you’re giving out goodies or not, you should consider things like a printed referral information they can hand out to their patients. You don’t need to design it from scratch, this article has a free a template for your referral printouts.
Make Referrals Easy
Take a close look at your referral process. Most likely there are ways that it can be improved to be the most efficient and convenient option for your potential referring doctors. Reach out to your current referring partners and ask for feedback on how your process could be better. Take action before a referring provider gets so frustrated they start sending patients elsewhere.
How quickly do you provide test results? How quickly do you take care of scheduling a new patient? Are there ways you can improve your phone systems? Ask yourself these questions regularly to be sure you’re helping your referral partners appropriately.
To Get More Doctor Referrals Is To Get More Patients
As you can see it’s not hard to get more physician referrals if you have the right approach. Go out, meet the doctors you want to work with, treat them like friends as opposed to referral sources, and be sure you’re giving them what they need so they will want to send more patients your way. So get started!
Could your practice use some new patients?