Would you like to build a network of thriving referral partnerships? Use these tips and suggestions below to formulate a master plan and executable checklist.
First of all, focus on the right partnerships and clearly outline what’s “in it” for them—as well as for you! The goal is to build mutually beneficial relationships that last.
The best referrals come from:
- Complimentary Medical Practices
- Local Businesses
Complimentary Medical Practices
Prepare ahead to engage well-aligned medical practices and practitioners.
- Do your patient populations “match?” Do you specialize in treating patients who are a specific gender, personality, philosophy, occupation, etc., similar to your patient groups?
- Why exactly should they refer you?
- How many patients are they likely to refer and how often?
- Do they refer to practices which might compete with yours?
- How convenient is your location for their patients?
- Do they have a high enough volume of patients who are candidates for referral (to make the referent valuable)?
Define your processes and preferences so that everyone is comfortable with referring.
- What do they need from you to be confident in referring?
- How do they want to hear from you and at what frequency?
- How will you keep them updated on your new treatments, pricing or products?
Reward, reward, reward!
- What special thing could you do for your referents that would be meaningful to them?
- Some practices invite referent staff members to special events, provide certain discounts, gifts or include that practice in a co-promotion.
Make a list of your ideal patient groups and key lifestyle characteristics, then work with your team to learn where your patients:
- shop, exercise, eat, take their children or participate in leisure activities
- go to school, work or gather for community functions
Proven referral streams for preventative, anti-aging and specific medical interventions often come from:
- Personal trainers at popular gyms
- Contact general managers or personal training supervisors.
- Health clubs often welcome speakers at their site to attract non-members and community leaders.
- Speaking to groups of teachers or to certain groups of students is often desirable.
- Shop owners
- Find the shops that your potential patients visit and invite the store manager to discounted treatments or a special tour of your practice.
- Invite several of your target retailers to a dinner or other event to give a short presentation and then invite Q&A.
- In many communities, realtors have their finger on the pulse of local relationships and the overall marketplace. Introduce yourself and foster relationships with these movers and shakers!
- Business leaders
- Join the Chamber or find business organizations that make sense for you or someone on your team to join. You are a business leader and bring great value to the community!
- Sports/yoga leaders or performers.
We encourage you to develop a patient referral program that recognizes the patient for sending a friend or family member. There are numerous designs for this function and all include a way to incent and reward a referral.
Word-of-mouth is your BEST source of new patients, so the best strategy is to create a very positive patient experience every time.
FOR BEST RESULTS: Optimize your referral program over time
Your practice software should track incoming referrals, remind you to (or automatically) send a thank you or update and produce regular reports that show referral patterns.
- Train the front desk staff to ask, “Who can we thank?” for a referral, and make sure that those referrals are documented and easily tracked.
- Run reports regularly on who is referring, how many patients they have referred and follow the feedback loop to be sure referents are thanked or that (required) patient data is given.
- Assign someone who is accountable for this function.
- Create and monitor a formal, disciplined system for keeping referents informed on what your treatments are and how their patients might benefit, in addition to thank yous, recognition and follow up.
Feeling overwhelmed? The best place to start is with your current patients. Focus on optimizing your workflow, minimizing wait times and building empowered patient-physician partnerships. From there, you and your staff can hash out a list of long-term goals based on the tips above, then go about tackling one item on the list every week or month.