It’s a fallacy that physician referrals come via the golf club and lunchroom connections. That might have been par for the course in decades past, but now referrals are gained through focused strategies based on professional relationships.
Providers make dozens of referrals each week as part of everyday patient care, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Building your practice’s referral marketing program requires patience, skill and budget to achieve holes-in-one and birdies.
Identify the Targets
As in any form of healthcare marketing, it’s vital to know who your ideal audience is. You can choose to identify your target personas using geographical location, types of practice and areas of specialty most likely to refer patients to you. Develop a profile of the person at the heart of the practice, research their activities and preferences and the channels most likely to reach them.
Developing a relationship with potential physician referrers starts by opening up communications with them. You can do this in various ways, depending on the extent of your list, including:
- Targeted email
- Personalized content marketing
- Face-to-face visits
- In-person presentations to larger teams and practices
- Professional collateral for handout to patients
All marketing activities should emphasize your patient service strategy, so physicians can refer patients to you with confidence that they will receive the attention they expect.
Develop Systems for Managing Referrals
Use the right technology for interoperability in healthcare, so you can share information electronically with other providers. Research shows 63% of referring physicians are dissatisfied with referral processes. It’s vital to success, however, for programs to transfer patients and information easily and seamlessly.
That means having systems that accept referrals in whatever format they arrive, monitoring and tracking. Breakdowns in communication result in poor continuity of care, diagnosis delays, higher risk of errors or litigation, and unnecessary testing, but having the right technology improves efficiencies, resulting in better outcomes.
Retention is Important
Acquiring new patients through physician referrals is a marketing function, but keeping those patients also takes effort. In the world of reimbursements based on outcomes, it’s important for sources to partner with the best providers. Primary care and general medical providers are concerned about patient health, and following up with the referring provider after a consultation keeps them informed. Provide a visit summary, the treatment plan and projected next steps in the patient’s care, with additional insights that may be useful.
For practice owners and managers, it’s challenging to balance quality patient care and building a thriving business. Making the effort to create a robust referral network can help you achieve both objectives.
For more information on building a successful physician referral program, call Wax Custom Communications at 305-350-5700 or visit waxcom.com.