Most private practice owners have an established set of partnerships with local physicians and practices. They supply a steady volume of physical therapy referrals, but what if that changes?
Creating a referral relationship is definitely the heavy lifting—you also need to sustain and foster that partnership to keep the patients flowing in. There are several easy ways to keep your practice top of mind when physicians refer patients to PT.
Physicians often send patients to PT after they have tried a few other treatment options. While prescribing PT first is definitely key, reality shows that just isn’t the case. So when a new patient comes to you, the physician will want to know if physical therapy is working. Be proactive and send regular progress reports to the office. By demonstrating that you care about the patient’s health and results, you truly become a partner with the physician in managing the course of care.
You can task the patient care coordinator with updating the physician on progress via email or phone call. Once the patient has completed their treatment, get a testimonial with their results and great experience in PT. You can use this for marketing in your newsletter, website and social media. Download our free guide for tips on marketing your PT practice and getting more new patients
Communication is a core component of sourcing physical therapy referrals from physicians. Too often, we rely on technology to keep in contact. But, you can gain 10x the business value from 1 face to face interaction as compared to 10 digital communications. Practice owners should prioritize having 1 in-person meeting with each referral partner at least once a quarter. This keeps your relationship fresh and offers the opportunity to highlight strengths or fix problems early. What if you set aside 1 hour a week to visit with a physician’s office? That gives you 10 minutes to schedule the meeting, 20 minutes for travel time and 30 minutes to catch up. Look for times when the physician is most likely to be ready to interact. This could be first thing in the morning, before the office opens, over lunch or during the afternoon.
While you are at the office, talk to the staff and see how things are going. You can get the unfiltered scoop on local market news, upcoming changes to the practice, and patient feedback. Bring brochures or giveaways to leave in the office. If it is along-term referral partner, consider bringing a snack or treat such as doughnuts or bagels. Free food goes a long way in carrying favor with folks.
If you typically have 30 patient referrals a month and see that number decrease by 5 or more, you need to determine the root cause. It might be a simple as an office was closed for a week. Or, it could be more serious and require a deeper understanding. For example, an office may stop referring patients to your practice because a competing clinic has opened up nearer to their office. First, you want to identify this change in physical therapy referrals quickly. Then, you want to communicate with that office and schedule some face time so that you can rebuild the relationship. It can be easy to come into this process on the defensive, “we have been partners for all these years, why the cold shoulder”. Instead, lead with empathy “I understand their office is close” and emphasize the exceptional care that you have provided patients via testimonials and results.
Building and sustaining healthy relationships that generate physical therapy referrals is the core of many PT practices’ business models. You need physicians to know and appreciate your expertise and care so that they send patients to you. By sharing great results, communicating regularly and monitoring your stats, you will be able to keep a steady stream of referrals for the clinic.