Nothing has a greater marketing impact or is a better use of time or money than specialists taking the time and effort to make themselves known referring physicians. The referring physician is in fact your most important customer, next to your patients. This simple but effective approach to marketing yourself and your practice will be well worth the time and dollars spent.
Enter the physician liaison…a representative that can help build these referral relationships on your behalf.
1. Make yourself known to potential referral sources.
This applies to both existing practices and physicians as well as new ones. The most productive marketing strategy for a medical provider is introductions to referring providers. Creating connections to other medical providers in the community is essential and produces significant dividends. You may utilize a physician liaison to cultivate relationships on your behalf and/or to facilitate face-to-face meetings via drop-ins, breakfasts or lunches in your potential referral sources’ offices. It doesn’t have to be fancy or a big deal, just drop-in to introduce yourself, chat briefly about what you do and thank them for their trust in you. A physician liaison can often schedule a few of these stops over a few hours. Part of a day blocked out for meetings like this every now and then can produce substantial dividends for your practice. Whether it is the liaison making introductions or facilitating a face-to-face meeting, the strategy is extremely effective.
2. Make referrals easy for referring physician’s staff.
Utilize a physician liaison to distribute cards and brochures for your practice to potential referral sources. Make it easy for them to contact you and to refer a patient. Provide them with a stack of cards for each nurse’s station and make sure they always have enough. Give them pads of referral forms to use as an option if it makes referring to you easier for them. A physician liaison in their office offering to help them make referrals easier can go a long way.
3. Create special relationships with the referring physician’s staff.
A physician liaison can serve in a customer service roll for you, making the jobs of the referring physician’s staff easier by expediting and simplifying appointments for their patients and making them feel important. Accommodating their patients and providing easy access for their staff makes you look good.
4. Monitor your referral patterns.
Keep a log of who’s referring and check it monthly. Monitor new referrals and declines in referrals. Send “thank you for the referral” notes. These notes keep your practice top-of-mind for referring physicians and are not “the norm” amongst specialists. A handwritten note acknowledging the referring physician’s trust in you goes a very long way, and is typically something that your competitors are probably not doing. This process can also be initiated and executed by a physician liaison, leaving just a signature to you.
5. Recognize referred patients as ambassadors of your practice.
When they return to their primary care physician and are happy with the treatment and service they received, it helps to build positive relations with you and your practice. See referred patients in a timely manner, treat them well and communicate promptly back with the referring provider.