In today’s competitive healthcare environment, it is more important than ever to have a strong patient referral base. Whether new business comes from other providers, by word of mouth, or through various marketing efforts, patients are the foundation of every medical practice and essential to success.
The following are a few simple strategies on how to increase patient referrals in a medical practice:
- Have a web presence - According to PewResearch Center, 77% of patients search online before booking an appointment, which is why a strong web presence is a must for medical practices today. An effective website is not only necessary for marketing purposes, it can also provide a wealth of information to your patients. Patient portals can also help practices reduce many administrative burdens by assisting with duties such as scheduling appointments, online registration, accessing test results, and online prescription refills. To further increase traffic to your website, add a regular weekly blog discussing popular health topics about prevention, diet, and other health related tips.
- Get privileges- Make sure all providers in your practice are listed as members of the medical staff for every local hospital within a reasonable distance from your office. By doing so, your practice will be listed on the hospital’s website which is utilized by both patients and referring physicians when searching for a doctor.
- Physician outreach - Physicians seeking to expand their patient base should network and meet with other doctors in their area. It is important for referring physicians to meet face to face, in order to gain a better understanding of each other’s practice and areas of expertise. It may also be beneficial to have an office manager join the meeting so they can get to know staff members and discuss administrative information and referral processes. Make sure to bring plenty of business cards, referral sheets, and brochures. Once a physician has an established group of physician referral sources, it is also essential to cultivate and maintain those relationships.
- Speaking engagements- Another effective strategy increasing patient referrals is through physician speaking engagements at local hospitals, non-profits, assisted living facilities, and other public forums. Typically, hospitals will cover the cost of advertising the event if you have privileges at that hospital. Some popular topics include weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and management or treatment of diabetes. Once again, make sure to bring the flyers, business cards, and any other promotional items for distribution.
- Get out in the community- Although it may be difficult to get out of the office, it can be very beneficial to your practice and rewarding at the same time. Whether it is a local healthcare providers event or a non-profit connected to your specialty, these organizations are always seeking physician leaders for speaking engagements and meetings. Other suggestions include working with a local assisted living, or the public-school system. These ideas typically won’t require a huge time commitment and can speak volumes to the community.
- Ask patients for referrals- Your current patient base can be one of the best referral sources. Make sure you let patients know that you appreciate their business and ask them to refer their friends or family to your practice. You may be surprised by how much this simple question, can help increase your business. Make sure that staff follows your lead.
- Don’t underestimate or ignore social media – Social media sites such as HealthGrades, Vitals!, Google+, RateMDs.com and other similar websites are often a resource for patients looking for a new physician. If your practice needs help increasing AND improving social media ratings, checkout M3-Advocate®, MedicalGPS' patent pending, subscription based physician reputation management software.