4 Simple Ways to Increase Patient Referrals
Physicians today are busier now more than ever before. Running a practice, transitioning to electronic medical records, switching to ICD-10, and staying on top of HIPAA regulations, can all seem like an uphill battle. This leaves most physicians with very little time to consider how to increase their referral base or build their business. However, patient referrals are the lifeline to any practice large or small, so the time is worth the investment. The following are a few simple strategies on how to increase patient referrals:
- Cultivate current relationships- If you’re looking to increase your patient referral base, often the best place to look is in your own backyard. Identify the top 10 doctors that send you the most patients and spend the majority of your time cultivating those relationships. Visit their office, get to know their staff, bring them lunch or deliver thank you goodies with a handwritten thank you note. Provide them with plenty of your business cards and give them updates on your practice.
- Remember staff- While many physicians tell their employees which doctor to send a referral too, often the referral coordinator or office staff will make the determination. Be kind to staff members of referring physicians. Interact with them, bring thank you treats and have your staff meet with them as well. Some offices speak to one another almost daily, but rarely have the opportunity to meet. A little good will can go a long way.
- Schedule follow-up appointments- While this may seem obvious, many doctors do not ask the patient to schedule a follow-up visit. This is an important next step in securing your relationship with the patient and a best practice for the continuum of care. Scheduling a follow-up appointment shows the patient that you care about their health and want to see them again.
- Provide exceptional customer service- When a physician refers a doctor to a patient, they are putting their reputation on the line. The doctor sending the patient doesn’t want their patient coming back with complaints. Well trained staff is crucial to patient satisfaction, so provide customer service training for all employees. By implementing basic customer service processes you will quickly increase your patient referrals:
- Make it simple for patients to schedule an appointment- by using online scheduling. Leave a few open appointments for same-day referrals from other physician offices.
- Be sure to communicate quickly back to the referring physician- Using EMR can help expedite this process. However, it is important to make sure you are available to answer questions from the referring doctor.
- Never steal patients- Some doctors may be reluctant to refer their patients to other providers because they are worried they will steal their patients or send them to another physician. Always send patients back with notes detailing your medical opinion and suggestions.
- Return the favor- if a provider consistently sends you patient referrals, it is important return the favor and send them patients whenever possible.