Building a strong referral network is a critical aspect of ensuring your medical practice is a success. Referrals will come from people with whom you’ve established a good working relationship.
For most medical practices, the primary source of new patients is other health care providers. To grow and sustain your medical practice’s revenue stream, it’s imperative to continue attracting patients who require your services. Beyond advertising and networking with insurance companies, establishing a strong referral network is a great way to bring in new business.
“With few exceptions, physicians and other health care providers remain the most important sources of patient acquisition,” said Daniel Weinbach, principal of health care marketing firm The Weinbach Group. “The only other source that comes close is a patient’s insurance company,” he told Business News Daily.
So, we found compiled the best advice for establishing, maintaining and strengthening referral networks for a small medical practice:
1. ESTABLISH A PLAN AND STICK TO IT
“Start by creating a plan or working with a healthcare marketing expert to create a plan; then execute,” Weinbach said. “Perhaps most importantly, physicians and their practice managers must have patience, discipline, and confidence in their plan.Many practices expect immediate results from their efforts; however, establishing a referral network is a process, not an event. An effective program requires continuity and frequency. Too often, practices change course or discontinue their referral-building programs before they demonstrate results.”
2. KEEP COMMUNICATION CHANNELS OPEN
“Communicate with your referrers on a regular basis about mutual patients of interest,” said Joseph Glaser, nuclear medicine physician at Radiologic Associates PC. “This will increase the quality of patient care and strengthen your relationship with the referrers. Let your mutual patients know that you have communicated with their other doctors, and they will feel like they are getting quality care (which they are). Projecting this to your patients and referrers will make it more likely that people will seek you out.”
3. KNOW YOUR PRACTICE AND YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
“Of course, the best tactics for building patient volume will vary widely based on the practice’s specialty,” Weinbach said. “For example, growing a primary care practice requires a more consumer-friendly approach, while growing an oncology practice requires targeted outreach to physician referrers, like radiologists and site-disease specialists. Unfortunately, there are few ‘quick fixes’ in health care marketers’ toolboxes. That said, we have found great success with online search advertising, especially when our clients have well-designed, highly functional websites.”
4. SCHEDULE FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS WITH REFERRERS
“When a specialist is looking to increase their referrals, a face-to-face meeting makes a big difference — enhancing the physician-to-physician relationship counts,” said Wayne Lipton, managing partner at Concierge Choice Physicians. “Also, interacting with the referring physician’s staff is a way to impact the number of referrals. Ultimately, it comes down to performance — timely appointments, appropriate communication, and top-level services.”
5. GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE
“Make yourself known and available; advertise locally,” Glaser said. “If there are local medical societies, professional societies, chambers of commerce, join and be known. Keep track of where your greatest return comes from, and ramp it up accordingly. Network with other health care providers, including nonphysicians [such as dentists]. They may be sources of referrals, and you may be able to reciprocate as you get to know and trust each other’s expertise.”
6. KEEP THE REFERRER INFORMED AFTER SEEING THE PATIENT
“When the referral source doesn’t have to constantly follow up on paperwork or a patient’s treatment, they’ll want to work with you on an ongoing basis,” Macon said. “In addition, remaining steadfast in providing excellent patient care makes the referral source’s life easier because they won’t need to see the referred patient again for the same issue. In the world of outcomes-based reimbursements, it’s more important than ever for referral sources to partner with the best providers.”
7. RE-EVALUATE AND UPDATE REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS AS NECESSARY
“One thing to do is to reassess regularly and to be aware of the changes that occur in practices,” Lipton said. “For example, what may have been a good referral in radiology five years ago may not be one now as facilities and equipment age.”
Referrals arrive when your relationships are strong. The above ways will help you build that referral pipeline. Then, you can cultivate it with follow-ups, regular communication, and acknowledgment for referrals. If you want to send a nice, personalized card with a small gift (like cookies or flowers), using an automated system like SendOutCards makes it seamless. That card will keep you top of mind when those business relationships are thinking of sending a referral.
Above all else, pick your plan, work it consistently, then evaluate. Your business will thrive when you put the focus on what works and increase it.
To secure your best year yet, you may consider using a service like SendOutCards. In just minutes, you can create a custom card, add a personal message and picture, and do it all right from your mobile device! You can even include one of their many gift selections like their amazing brownies, their new premium line of chocolates, you can even include a Starbucks card!
If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate a Relationship Marketing Strategy in your business, feel free to call or text me at 603.785.8415. I Will answer all your questions and help you build relationships, increase referrals, and make an amazing impression on all your clients, friends and family!