Referrals, Networking & Other Ways to Grow Your Practice

Physician Networks

Patient Networks

Online Search and Reputation

Other Networks

Build a solid network

While many referrals come from primary care physicians, you can diversify your referral paths by tapping other medical specialists. When a physical therapist sees that her client requires additional medical evaluation, they’ll make an orthopedic specialist referral. Conversely, a post-op orthopedic patient will need a PT for rehabilitation. This creates a tight synergistic relationship. Nurse Practitioners can also be a source of referrals. Practices can form relationships that provide an ongoing source of new patients

Streamline and monitor your referral activity

Research estimates show that only half of 100 million ambulatory referrals get completed each year. Miscommunications and inefficient processes are among the possible reasons for the lapses. In some cases, the patient doesn’t get notified of their new appointments or the referral gets buried under paperwork with no follow-up. This leads to a relationship missed and revenue lost.

Looking at your current and previous referrals, evaluate the overall process. How long does it take from appointment-setting to care continuity? Establish a clear guideline with your referral link so you can cut waiting time short. How is your staff throughout the process? Do you have dedicated personnel or does this often take low priority due to overloaded paperwork? Assign someone to take full responsibility to bring these new referrals in and make sure the staff is measured and recognized for success.

Turn your patients into advocates

Appointments can spike anxiety so it’s important to make patients feel comfortable. If your staff is not specifically trained in techniques and awareness, it can negatively impact the patient’s experience. Review all of their contact points, from initial scheduling to final billing and payment, then analyze how to improve them.

This may involve process reengineering, staff training, or new equipment. How do patients prefer to communicate with you for updates and follow-ups? Do they prefer emails (or HIPAA portals), texts, or call? Personalizing your approach affects a patients’ perception and it spans their full experience. High patient satisfaction increases referrals from family, distant relatives, friends, neighbors, church groups, work colleagues, and on to all networks.

Manage your online reputation

Whether or not you participate in anything online, the internet has an opinion of you. The increasing popularity of health applications and websites spurred businessmen to establish an online presence. A growing number of self-referral patients check sites like Vitals, WebMD, RateMDs, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades for physician profiles, ratings, and patient testimonials. These not only affect new patients but also influence other doctors in their own patient referrals.

Have you Googled yourself? Is the information updated? Are there any positive or negative reviews about your practice? Work to improve your profiles and promote new information topush down negative sites. Identify potential referrers to rate and share their experiences under your care. Taking proactive steps ensures only good reviews are visible out there.

When you are not a Physician

As you walk through life, how do you interact with people.You may enjoy being with people (or maybe not so much.) The kind of person you are, your interactions, and words affect how people think of you. This in turn, determines how they remember you, if at all. You can be thought of as humorous with kids, a smart dresser, conspicuous wealth displaying, aloof, or engaging and compassionate. They may remember your name, your specialization, or nothing medical related at all. Depending on what social situation you are in impacts the effects on your practice. Those who connect with people experience the most success in their personal and business life.

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