One major misconception: patient referrals are to complicate and too expensive to do right. It is a known fear in the world of medical practice.
Here are a few strategies to help increase and maintain your patient referrals.
- A Strong Online Presence is a must
A website that displays and advertises your profile, practice, contact information such as expert web design for doctors by Online Marketing for Doctors is crucial to your patient referral strategy. Referrals need to be easily searched and located for anyone looking online.
If you already have a blog where you write about topics within your expertise, this will create organic traffic to your website for patient referrals, and would possibly attract other physicians who might refer you.
- Cultivate and Manage New Patient Referral Sources
First of all, your paperwork should have a place where patients can write the name of the physician that referred them to you. If you have front office staff, they should maintain a database of these referral sources. Every time you receive a referral from a physician that’s not on the list, make sure to call them and thank them personally for the referral. You have to take care and nurture those relationships to create your own network and really be successful.
Whether new or established, all physician referral sources should receive a fax and/or a secure email with a cover letter thanking the physician for the referral and contain a summary of your assessment and a prescribed course of treatment. Include a copy of the electronic medical file and send it to the referring physician within 1-3 days after the initial consultation of the patient. If ever you will be admitting the patient to the hospital, or have a patient undergo surgery, be sure to communicate this with the referral source immediately. This process of following up will immediately gain the immense trust of the referring physician.
- The Referral Process Must be Simple
Most referrals usually happen when a physician simply tells a patient that they should make an appointment with a certain physician. The problem is, they may not provide your contact details, and the downfall is most of these patients may never push through with the appointment.
To overcome such instances, you can have something like healthcare marketing agency in Sydney, Melbourne advertise your contact details online. One of the easiest ways is providing your front-office staff a document of your referral source that they can fill out and fax to you with the patient’s demographics, suspected diagnosis, the reason for referral, and their contact information.
This may be an extra step for the front-office, but this step increases the chances of a patient scheduling a follow-up appointment with you. Now that you know the suspected diagnosis, you can set the priority of each patient.
- Recall Patients when Medically Needed
Make sure that your staff has a system to recall the patient when medically needed or appropriate. For example, A patient has been seen for an endoscopy and should be seen for additional screening and monitoring and be contacted via telephone at a date close to the one-year mark.
A patient’s memory is not something you can rely on when making an appointment. A dermatologist who has treated a patient for skin cancer should recall the patient every three months for a skin check for at least a year. Your staff should schedule and make sure that the patient follows through with their next appointment. If ever the patient fails to follow through, be sure to advise the referring physician.
These few tricks would require a little extra work from your staff, but it can make a huge difference in the flow of your patient’s referrals in the long run. The key to success is always communication with both your referral source and your patients.