While more and more patients are finding their way to your office via the web, getting patient referrals from other physicians is still very much imperative, if not vital. Time and time again, practices that engage in referral-based marketing have doubled and tripled their new patient numbers simply by picking up new referring offices. However, while new referral sources are the goal, we want to make sure we sustain those relationships to ensure a consistent flow of referrals. Below are 5 very basic and simple elements to keep in mind so that your practice is the most appealing choice when a referral is necessary.
- MAKE THE PROCESS EASY
It’s as simple as that. This is when the true colors about your internal structure will shine through. If an office calls to make a referral, is it tough to get in touch with someone? Are they constantly being put on hold? Does the patient have to wait 2 weeks to get an appointment? If the process is not easy, you can be sure that they will call another office next time they want to refer a patient. Make sure that your front line (reception) is where it needs to be: efficient, pleasant, thorough and organized.
- ALWAYS FOLLOW UP
Getting the referral is one thing, but it doesn’t end there. Referring physicians never like to be left in the dark. Sending consult notes right away are a must and will help you gain the appreciation of the referring physician. Further, if a patient cancels their appointment or doesn’t show up, it only helps to inform the referring office and keep them in the loop. What you are providing is a continuation of care so it’s necessary to keep communication lines open so all are on the same page. (And it wouldn’t hurt to send a thank you note either)
- KEEP THEM WELL-STOCKED
Want new referrals? Make sure to stay top-of-mind. Quite simply, make sure they have your information whether it’s a nice stack of business cards, referral cards, referral pads or insurance lists with all necessary information. When an office needs to make a referral, and your business cards and information are sitting right there, your chances of receiving that referral are much greater. Every so often, have someone (you or your staff) stop in and drop off more cards and information about your practice.
- BE GREAT AT WHAT YOU DO
Need we say more? Take care of your patients. Most likely, they will return to the referring physician for a follow up and give a report on their experience with you and your office. Good feedback makes the referring physician look good and feel comfortable about sending more patients your way.
- GIVE THEM SPECIAL TREATMENT
Great customer service always wins. Take care of your referring offices and let them know that you will always do what you can to be accommodating and to facilitate the referral process. Make them feel extra special and they will remember the ease of referring to your practice. By making room for a few emergency slots in your schedule, you can easily treat emergency referrals or just help a referring office by seeing an eager patient right away. Taking care of referring offices and doing what you can to make the process easier will do wonders for building a strong, sustained relationship.