Professional referrals—typically from generalist to specialist or to hospital admitting—are the financial lifeblood of many specialty practices, hospitals and other medical and dental providers. However, once rock-solid referral sources have eroded or evaporated with the dynamics that are reshaping healthcare delivery systems.
It’s an increasingly urgent problem for hospital and healthcare marketing in general, and for Physician Relations in particular. In recent weeks we’ve written about some of the factors that are threatening the survival of referral dependent practices and institutions ranging from careless neglect to a serious communications breakdown.
In our conversations with hospitals, group practices and specialists around the nation, the “old reliable” sources are moving, dying, retiring or defecting. Competition for referrals has become more intense, and some cases are being treated within the practice and are not being referred out.
So… what are you going to do now?
There’s no magic involved here. The business of professional referrals requires a clear plan of action. (Surprisingly, a lot of situations are missing this vital element.) Referral sources require deliberate and continuing care and attention.
Call it Business Development or any of several titles such as Physician Liaison, Physician Relations, Practice Representative or Marketing & Public Relations. By any label, a successful system of continuing referrals flows from a plan with responsibilities, measurable goals, timeline and resources.
Check your business pipeline for leaks. And if you need help creating or revising a professional referral plan, click through here for ways we can help turn things around.