In today’s ever-changing healthcare world, securing referrals from local doctors is becoming even more challenging. As a practice owner, you know that referrals are still an important step in bringing in new patients to the clinic. But, how do you diversify your sources with new doctors and also keep ensuring continued referrals from existing ones – all while running a practice? It’s all about having a repeatable system & plan for marketing to doctors.
Similar to patient marketing, it is important to take the time the plan before initiating a program for doctors. Here are some easy steps to get started:
Compile an existing contact list
First, list all the practitioners that referred to your clinic in the past month. Then, expand that list to the past quarter or the past year. This will provide you an understanding of your top referrers.
Develop a new contact list
Especially if you have been in business for several years, you might not have kept up with new offices or practitioners that have come into town. Or, with recent healthcare changes, doctors may have changed practices or regrouped into new organizations.
Do research. Search online for new providers who you would like to see referring to your clinic. Target those in geographic areas or with specialties that would compliment your patient demographics. For example, if you treat a lot of athletes, look for orthopedics or sports medicine doctors nearby. Or, if your community is expanding, see what offices have opened near new subdivisions—those providers could be the inside track to a new patient market.
Now that you have a comprehensive list of doctors in your area, it’s time to develop your marketing plan. Doctor marketing requires more variety than patient marketing. Consistency is still key, but it’s more about regular communications or interactions and less about the methods used. Doctors are targeted by lots of marketers: hospitals, pharmaceutical reps, universities, research studies etc. Your marketing needs to stand out in the crowd. Check out these options (and the pros and cons).
Sending a trifold brochure each month is very consistent and keeps your contact info fresh in the doctors’ minds. This is also a great way to share your PT expertise and patient testimonials.
Good for: consistency; easy to plan; works well for communities with a high number of providers; also helpful for rural communities where offices might be far apart
Not good for: your only source of marketing. You will need to integrate additional efforts to successfully target the medical community.
Develop a series of high-quality handouts relating to common diagnoses treated by physical therapy. Handouts are the perfect leave-behind for a marketing office visit or luncheon. It’s also important to make sure to leave several copies, especially ones for the front desk and referral coordinators.
Good for: distributing contact info to new providers; adding value to office visits; sharing the great results that can be achieved through PT.
Not good for: marketing to existing referrers. If a doctor already refers to you, they know that you’re an expert from their patients’ feedback. Handouts are better for marketing to new providers.
Building referral relationships takes time. It’s almost like you are courting the doctor and their office—and it has to be genuine.
For existing offices: change up your game! You have probably done the morning coffee, lunchtime sandwiches, or afternoon snacks. Try something new. Bring in a great testimonial from a patient referred to you by the office and thank them for sending the patient your way.
For new offices: make the first move! Find something in common with the doctor and staff—do you both sponsor little league teams or are you members of the same professional organization? Start the conversation and offer to visit and meet in person. Bring a healthy snack for the front desk and make sure to leave plenty of giveaways with your contact info. Follow up the visit with a thank you note to the doctor.
Also, don’t be afraid to include a specific web page with results and referral information on your website.