Providing a great service for our patients is certainly an important element of marketing our medical practices. However, our patients are not our only patrons. One of the most powerful sources of new patients can come from referring physicians. For many, this might even be the strongest source of business. With referral-based marketing, it’s not only important to build new relationships with physicians, but it’s imperative that we also strengthen the relationships we have with current referring physicians. It’s always more costly to acquire new business than to maintain existing business. Further, a strong relationship with a referring physician could mean many new patients each week, consistently, for years to come. Thus, the effort to strengthen and maintain such relationships is nothing compared to the potential return.
5 Ways to Keep Referring Physicians Happy
- Stay top-of-mind: Even if only once in a while, make sure you or a member of your TEAM, briefly pops in to referring offices to say hello and check to see that everything has been going well. Not only will you stay top-of-mind, but they’ll appreciate that you took the time to follow-up with them.
- Put it in writing: Don’t underestimate the power of the written word. After seeing a referred patient, make sure to immediately send the physician a consult note. They’ll appreciate the time you took to keep them informed and in the loop about their patient. You can also send referring physicians a quick note of gratitude. Make sure your office always has a supply of quality paper or thank you cards with your practice logo on them. You don’t have to send a note for each patient, but a hand-written acknowledgement once in a while will go a long way.
- Be accessible to them: Whether it’s through a visit, a phone call, or a note, specifically emphasize to your referring physicians that you’re available and accessible at any time and provide them with your personal contact info. While physicians will probably rarely contact you this way, they’ll certainly appreciate having the option and will remember you for it. Of course, make sure to honor your word and respond to any calls in a timely fashion.
- Be accessible to their patients: As referring physicians send their patients your way, your practice becomes an extension of theirs as well as a reflection on them. If their patients can’t easily get appointments, it’s unlikely that referring physicians will continue to trust that you’re the best specialist to refer to. If you’re not already doing so, think about having shorter hours one day so that you can offer evening and/or early appointments on another. You might even want to consider offering some weekend hours. Also, do your best to see referred patients right away whether you block out time for such cases or just offer priority appointments. Referring physicians will appreciate this and will know they can depend on you.
- Accept them: One of the easier ways to appeal to referring physicians is to participate with as many insurances as possible. They, as well as their patients, are mostly interested in the quality of your service as well as what insurances you take. You’ll quickly stand out as the go-to practice that accepts most major insurances, minimizes the hassle and you could easily end up being their preferred specialist for years to come.