According to a report in the Annals of Family Medicine, 45% of physicians receive new patients through referrals. Like any medical practitioner, you want to make sure that your practice is supported by your referral partners and your community.
We know that you are doing your part in referring patients to other physicians whom you feel are the best. But are they returning the favor of referring their patients to you?
If you’re looking for ways to get more referrals, keep reading. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices your office should maintain to maximize the potential of your patient referral program.
Get out of the office
In a fast-paced hospital setting, it can be especially hard to connect with colleagues. If you want to bolster your referral network and keep your business thriving, then you need to make the decision to get out of the office, even if it’s just once a month.
Meet new physicians and healthcare leaders in your community. Reach out to existing providers who you refer to and who refer to you.
Identify physicians you want to partner with. You’ll want someone who is a good match for your practice, share your values and hold themselves to a high ethical standard.
Build a relationship
The best way to grow your referrals is to build, maintain, and improve your relationships with referring providers.
Professional referrals are based squarely on sound relationships and expertise. Doctors and their staff will only refer their patients to people they trust, like, and feel are competent.
Make a continual effort to show your referring doctors that you value their partnership. You can call them up just to see how they and their families are doing, drop by with a frappuccino for them or take them out for lunch.
In most cases, it is not the doctor, but a key staff person who actually handles the referral mechanics. If you want to grow your referral base, then you should take the initiative to get to know not only the physician but also their staff. Be certain to identify and include the key gatekeepers. Capitalize on those connections and they will be more likely to pass your business card on.
Simplify the referral process
Most doctors would simply advise their patients to book an appointment with a certain doctor.
Unfortunately, 50% of professional referrals never result in a doctor’s visit. The referral process should be quick and simple.
Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on a big slice of the referral pie. Even if the referring physician and their staff adore you, they’re not going to send patients your way if your referral process is frustrating, time-consuming, and just plain clunky.
Simplify the referral process by investing in a secure online referral portal, where they can send you the patient’s information, including contact information, suspected diagnosis, and reason for referral.
Since you already have the necessary information, it will be easier for you to decide the course of action and how quickly the patient needs to be seen. As a result, you’ll be able to serve both the referring physician and the patient better.
Make referring physician look good
When doctors refer their patients to you, it means that they trust you. Your office will serve as an extension of theirs, so they are counting on you to provide patients with excellent service.
Often, patients report back to their primary physicians about their experience. Make a special effort to accommodate the referred patient as soon as possible. Also, make sure that you take good care of the patients and treat them right.
Ensure the referring physician that there will always be room for their patients at your practice.
We grow up learning the importance of good manners, and that usually starts with saying “thank you”.
If a patient is referred to you, take the time to call the referring physician to thank him/her for the trust and confidence. You can also send a hand-written note if that’s your style. Let the referring practice know that you appreciate the referral.
Stay in touch with the referring physician
When a patient is referred to you, it is always vital to follow up. This is a crucial step that many physicians do not do.
One study suggests that 40% of patients that follow through with a referral never went back to their primary physician after the care is initially provided. Always send the patient back to the referring physician. The last thing you want is for the referring doctor to feel that their generous referral has cost them a patient.
Let the referring practice know that the patient has already been scheduled and that you will continue to communicate about what transpires. You want to assure the referring doctor that you’re invested in their patients’ health and that the patient will be receiving the best care possible.