Klara Healthcare Practice Consultants have compiled the top 5 ways to build a referral network for your medical practice in 2017. These referral network tips are proven tactics that benefit healthcare professionals across specialties. Take a look below:
1. Write It Down
If you don't have a written referral plan in place, start writing. Just as you would create a business plan as a small business owner, for example, start your referral or 'growth' plan as simply as writing out your goals and path to execution. This would be a good time if you have resources to involve a healthcare marketing or business operations expert. It's important to set realistic goals, and to understand that building a network takes time. You are building a series of processes to create a program, not a single event. Set realistic goals and a timeline for achieving these.
2. Adopt Technology and Embrace Interoperability
"In health care, [interoperability] means being able to share electronic information across the health care continuum to improve efficiencies and deliver better outcomes and patient care," according to Jana Macon, vice president of Strategic Services at software company Brightree.
"The ideal solution is cloud-based and will allow the provider to receive referrals electronically. This streamlines the referral process for both the referral source and the provider, reducing human error and eliminating paperwork," says Macon for Business News Daily.
3. Build Relationships Outside of Your Specialty
You may be a 'big deal' within your specialty (which is great!), but it is important to network outside your given specialty. Attend networking events and conferences that cater to the entire medical field if possible. If you are a specialist, with primary care providers and non-physician specialists, such as nutritionists or even mental health providers, who could benefit from having a go-to physician to send patients.
There's room in urgent care.
Don't neglect the growing influence of urgent care facilities. These types of services are growing at a rapid rate across the country, and often need to refer out for more complicated or long-term cases.
4. Invest in Marketing
With the average patient becoming more selective and market-savvy (thanks to services like Yelp, Healthgrades and Zocdoc), you need to be aware of your brand presence both online and off. Gone are the days of being the only 'community physician.' Invest some dollars in online and local advertising. You don't have to have a ton of cash to invest wisely. Keep track of which marketing channels yield your highest return, and re-invest accordingly. Launch patient referral programs. Leverage social networks (or have an assistant/intern to help you out). Marketing is an important function in differentiating yourself from the competition.
5. Re-evaluate and Re-engage with Your Existing Referral Network
Create check-in points to evaluate the effectiveness and value of your referral relationships. Have someone on your referral list that you haven't corresponded with in six months, in a year? Give them a call or send them a friendly email to check in. Keep your referral network list clean, so that you can focus on quality referral relationships.
One tip is to prospect for new healthcare practices that have recently opened in your area. To identify prospects, take a look at your local county's online records to look for new doctors that have just received their business license. Try to contact the office with a welcome message, or invite them to a simple networking meetup. Helping new practices is not only a great way to give back, but also a way to solidify your place within the community.
Ready to build your referral network? You might be interested in how to use platforms like Zocdoc, Yelp and Klara to optimize your patient retention rates and grow your practice.