6 Tips to Increasing Patient Referrals in Private Practice
Physicians rely heavily on patient referrals whether from other providers, word of mouth or through various marketing efforts. While today’s providers are pressed for time more than ever, building a strong patient referral base is a key factor in running a successful private practice. The following are a few simple strategies on how to increase patient referrals and expand upon your practice:
Medical staff privileges- Ensure that you are listed on the medical staff for all hospitals within a reasonable distance of your practice. If you are not interested in being on-call, you should still be able to maintain privileges. This will give you the ability to be listed on the hospital’s website, which both patients and referring physicians often utilize when searching for a doctor.
Create a website and a blog- According to a study by PewResearch Center, 80% of internet users seek online health information, and 77% of patients search online before booking an appointment. In today’s healthcare market, a website is essential for private practice and not only for marketing purposes. A practice website can provide a host of information to your patients. It can also help to reduce the burden on staff by assisting with many administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, online registration, test results, and prescription refills. Adding a regular blog about prevention and disease will also help take your website a step further and increase traffic to your site.
Market yourself to other specialties- Physicians looking to expand their patient referral base should go out and meet with other doctors to explain and offer information on their practice and services to their colleagues. Whether it is an Orthopedic Surgeon visiting a Primary Care Provider or vice versa, specialties need referrals, and they also send referrals. While it is not necessary, a little snack can go a long way with an office staff. Bring your office manager along to meet with staff and discuss how to make a referral and provide other information such as business cards, referral sheets, and brochures. Consider hosting an open house for other offices and invite nurses, office managers, and other medical staff. Follow-up visits are also critical. One visit is nice, but consistency is key in securing a healthy relationship.
Once a doctor has an established group of physician referral sources, it is essential to cultivate and maintain those relationships. Send handwritten thank-you notes, tell them you appreciate them, deliver goodies to their offices and continue to communicate with them sending updates on your services and practice.
Speaking engagements- Another way for a physician to increase their referral base is to do speaking engagements at local hospitals, non-profits, assisted living facilities, and other public forums. Most hospitals will advertise and host a speaking event free of charge if you have privileges at that hospital. Favorite topics include: lowering cholesterol, weight loss, treatment for diabetes, preventing heart disease and stroke, etc. Bring business cards, brochures and any other information that you can provide to attending patients.
Getting involved- While it is difficult for most physicians to find the time, getting involved in a cause can provide a host of new referral opportunities. Whether it is a non-profit linked to your specialty or a cause dear to your heart, non-profits are always seeking physician leaders for speaking engagements, meetings, events, and to be a part of making a difference. It typically does not require a huge time commitment, and it speaks volumes to the community.
Assisted Living- Offering time to see patients at a local assisted living can also be beneficial. Often these facilities have an office and nursing staff onsite and will allow a physician to see patients if they are affiliated and on the medical staff. Some offer Medical Directorship opportunities and various speaking engagements for events.