Most medical practices, especially specialists, rely heavily on referring physicians and word-of-mouth to keep their waiting rooms full of patients. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of new patients come from these sources. This is fine assuming the referring network is healthy and diverse, however, depending too heavily on referrals can be detrimental to the practice. What happens if the referral source(s) stop referring to you? Where will your new patients come from?
It takes a lot of time and effort to establish a strong referral network. And even when it is well established, it runs the risk of drying up. Referral sources are highly competitive so the secret to a successful network is to not put all your proverbial eggs in one basket. You must diversify in order to remain successful.
Here are some tips to keep your practices referral network healthy.
- Communicate frequently – By staying in regular contact with your referral sources you are able to keep a pulse on the relationship, address concerns and answer questions. This can be accomplished with a simple phone call or you can elect to have a physician liaison maintain contact with referral sources on your behalf.
- Seek out new opportunities – New doctors to the area may be looking for someone just like you to refer their patients to. Be on the lookout for new opportunities by networking in groups and introducing yourself to new potential referral sources. Don’t give up on doctors who have not yet referred. Your persistence may pay off when you least expect it.
- Monitor your online reputation – Work to ensure your online presence depicts you and your practice in a positive light. Referral sources are looking at you online and will be less likely to refer to a doctor with a lot of negative reviews.
Outside of nurturing your referral sources, it is equally important to diversify your medical marketing strategy. Develop a strong Internet marketing presence by making sure your practice is easily found on Google and other search engines.
You should also establish a blog for your practice. Blogs have a tremendous impact on search engine rankings, plus it positions you as a thought leader in your specialty.
Finally, establish a social media presence for your practice. Social media sites provide a way to share fun, engaging information with fans and potential patients. It gives patients another place to learn about you and your practice as well as a forum to ask questions.
Take a proactive approach to your marketing strategy and start nurturing your referral sources and diversifying your marketing strategy today. By doing so you secure the likelihood of successful medical practice for many years to come.