By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Maintaining the flow of doctor referrals is vital—if not life-and-death critical—in many professions. What’s more, healthcare reform and intense competition has made the whole business of professional referrals more challenging than ever to sustain.
In our experience, working with hundreds of referral-dependent practitioners, we’ve identified a nearly a dozen “secrets;” proven techniques that give stability to the all-important referral stream, and to be able to increase inbound referrals.
Secret #5: Give Referring Offices Exactly What They Want
On the surface, this “secret” seems self-evident. But the truly astonishing fact is that many offices take new patient referrals for granted, and they organize office processes and procedures around their own needs and interests. The referring physician is nearly forgotten and incidental at best.
Our special report, 11 Secrets to Doubling Doctor Referrals, emphasizes the importance of establishing and nurturing long-lasting relationships with referring physicians. And to be the “provider-of-choice” or the doctor that other doctors WANT to refer to, requires a deliberate effort and a specific process. The entire organization needs to know what’s important to the referring office and how to deliver on the continuing relationship.
Here are some of the benefits that providers with the most successful referral programs offer their referring doctors and patients:
High Quality Care: Above and beyond a reputation for clinical excellence, treating patients with concern builds your reputation as a provider that cares.
Timely appointments: If a referred patient can’t be seen relatively soon, they are likely to be referred elsewhere…and it tends to foster a “too busy” reputation in the future.
Prompt, understandable reports: Keep the referring office informed about process steps, clinical particulars, and status updates. The referring office/physician has a role and a responsibility for the care of the patient; keep them involved.
Hassle-free interactions with office staff: Referring doctors and staff members should regard your office as being the friendliest, most responsive and easiest to work with, above all others.
Willingness to take “tough” cases and “lesser” cases: A good relationship between practices serves patient needs without having to consider if they are “good-paying” or otherwise.
Confidence that you will send the patient back: A strong relationship removes the concern that referred patients will be “stolen.” Install deliberate (and noticeable) process steps when the patient is referred back to the original practice.
For more about building and growing referral relationships, click through here to download the free White Paper: 11 Secrets to Doubling Doctor Referrals to Your Hospital or Practice.
And for related reading, see our previous posts on this topic, including: The 3 Cs for Winning Professional-to-Professional Referrals and How to Shape Successful Relationships and Increase Referrals.