In today’s times, competition has reached new heights. Even if a medical practitioner is great at clinical skills, to outshine direct competition faced from other private clinics, it is necessary to market himself well.

Marketing does not need to be an expensive campaign. Few but hard hitting and time-tested techniques can help to increase the flow of patients. Marketing is a continuous process, only then will it yield results2. Generating referrals is one of the key marketing strategies in building a bustling practice.

Here are listed few practices in generating referrals for your practice:

Build relationships

When any one sends referrals, they do so as they not only trust your ability as a physician, but also believe that you are a genuinely caring doctor. They know that the patient they refer is going to be cared for and treated well, just as they do. Their reputation is at stake when they refer a patient to you. For increasing your referrals, it is necessary to make them a physician confident about you and the relationship they share with you. To build a strong and reliable relationship it is vital to focus on continuous contact and interaction. Keep in touch with your referring physicians or potentials via phone, SMS, emails, or other social media. It can also be regular face-to face interaction like a coffee meeting or lunch. Always remember that first understand the needs of your referrals, provide them with what they require. Having done that, you can inform them about your practice and your areas of expertise. Such a mutual give and take helps in building a valuable and successful professional relationship1.

Be Visible

The famous idiom ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ stands true even for referrals. It is necessary to make yourself visible not only among doctors, but also the general public to boost your referrals. Volunteer your services for local events, charity events etc. Conduct camps in your area so that everyone can benefit from your services. Start writing a column in your community paper or local newspaper1. If you haven’t started a website, then make it a priority. Make a website that is user friendly; give more health tips which are of practical utility and publish your website link on your visiting card, letter head, social media etc. Another important way is to connect more with people in your residential complex; once they are convinced with your professional skills they will be the ones who will bring you more referrals.

Appreciate the referrers

As mentioned above, its necessary to nurture your referral relationships. Every reference when well treated will bring in more referrers. Each time someone refers a new patient, remember to thank them through a phone call, sms, or an enclosed letter or a pre-printed thank you card etc. Everyone loves to be thanked and appreciated for their support and trust.

Respect the Staff

Every practicing physician will agree to the fact that the staff of any clinic or hospital is the most important referrer. The staff know all the details of any physician and are most aware of the abilities of a doctor. Staffs are self-authorized referral managers. While another physician may refer a patient to you, but his staff will be the one who can endorse you or disapprove you. Always remember to treat the staff of your own clinic or any other physician’s clinic or hospital with respect. You may even present them with gifts or sweets on occasions or festivals. Greet them when you meet them, etc. Always treat the staff with dignity and never be rude to them in front of patients, other physicians or other staff members because they know well how to even out the score with you2.

Be easily accessible and affable

In today’s fast paced world, everyone looks for convenience. Even the health industry is affected by this bug. Patients today want to be treated with great respect, care and comfort. To keep patients happy, give priority to new patients and referrals, see patients on time3. Stick to the scheduled appointments as far as possible. Try to accommodate your VIP patients before or after the clinic timings so that you do not disturb the appointments of your regular patients. Remember names of all your patients and address them by their names. Occasionally, do have light jovial conversations with your patients. Patients are glad to receive respect and some even demand it; hence ask your staff to be very cordial with them. Remember the impression that any person carries while leaving your clinic is most imperative as that will decide the referrals to your practice.

One needs to be proactive to have a constant rise in the number of referrals. All said and done, it is of paramount importance to be skilled and proficient, as that alone will help you to lessen the need for additional marketing expenses3.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD

References:

  1. http://www.webpt.com/blog/post/five-best-practices-referral-marketing#sthash.cs2I7s83.dpuf
  2. http://www.healthcaresuccess.com/pdfs/11-secrets-dr-referrals.pdf
  3. http://www.aao.org/yo/newsletter/200803/article01.cfm