Often doctors don’t think about building patient referrals because they see their service as a necessity only. There was a time when building patient referrals were not needed, as the world thrived on the conventional world of mouth tactics to grow patients.
But today with online marketing and web search taking precedence, having a grassroots approach to building patient referrals can be very effective.
Here are four tips to help doctors building patient referrals:
1) Make sure you are easy to find online
An easy to navigate, useful medical practice website is a good first step, but you also need to make sure your online reputation is upstanding. Make sure you are visible on the most well-known doctor review sites, and your google maps are updated with accurate information.
Your practice information and contact form are both very important. If somebody refers a new person to your medical practice, they need to be able to easily search for and find you online.
2) Know who is referring to you
On your medical history form, make sure to have a place for patients to list who referred them. If it was another doctor, make sure to connect to them via email and thank them. If it was another patient, make sure to make a note and thank them (note HIPAA privacy compliance rules apply here, so don’t divulge person patient information). You don’t need to tell them who visited based on their referral but make sure that they are thanked for referring.
One out of every ten people (including doctors) will be a very strong source of referrals. This person is a ‘power referrer’ and should be acknowledged very often. The more you thank them, the more often they will refer to you.
3) Create an easy way to refer
Most doctor-to-doctor referrals happen when a physician tells a patient ‘you need to make an appointment with Dr. Smith.’
However, this leads the patient on a hunt for the right ‘Dr. Smith’. It is far better to have the details and referral forms for doctors you refer to in your office. You may even have the front office team offer to call and make an appointment on the patient’s behalf.
You can also send your business cards, referral forms, etc to the other offices that refer to you. That way they can give the patients clear information about you. Growing the relationship with other doctors and their teams goes a long way to building patient referrals.
4) Reminders can become a form of referral
Some patients of record will need reminders for annual visits, or check-ups. Some of these revisits or follow-ups may be able to be done via telemedicine. Having a systemized reminder process will help patients to refer themselves back to your clinic more often.
This also reduces the risk of having to rely on a patient’s memory to make an appointment. It is very easy for front office team members to schedule visits a month, six months or a year ahead so that patients are already on the schedule.
These four tips to help doctors building patient referrals will require a little extra work from your front office staff but can make a huge difference in building patient referrals for your medical practice.
At the core of everything, good quality communication with your referral sources and patients is always key. When you cultivate doctor and patient relationships, your referrals sources will continue to help you grow your new patients.