Navigating the referral relationships between your practice and local doctors can sometimes feel like a scene out of House of Cards. Providers change offices, hire new patient care coordinators, or create alliances with hospital groups. So, how can you even keep up? It is about prioritizing your efforts, a doctor marketing triage if you will, and keeping your eyes on the bottom line.
Start by categorizing doctors into groups
- Good: stable and comfortable
- Fair: stable but with pain points or fluctuating conditions
- Serious: unstable with questionable conditions/concerns
- Critical: unstable and in dire need of attention
Once sorted into their respective groups, you will have a good sense of the 10,000 foot view of your referral relationships. Which group has the most providers? The least? Why? Ideally, you would want to have the most providers in categorized as Good and the least providers in Critical condition.
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Now you can treat each group holistically and determining what marketing programs are best suited to the individual providers.
4 Easy Doctor Marketing Ideas for PTs
First, there are the doctors who are consistently referring to you. You have a great relationship with them and their offices/staff. Referral numbers are staying the same month to month and patients return to the doctor happy with their PT’s results.
Maintain routine marketing
- Make sure all providers are included on monthly mailings, announcements, and external office communications or PR.
- Schedule quarterly visits to the office or meet ups with the doctor to keep the relationship growing.
Next, there are some practitioners are consistently referring, but you are sensing changes in the relationship.
Research the changes and develop new marketing ideas
- Why is the relationship changing? New partner in the office? Staffing changes? Patient complaints? Hospital alliance?
- Ask yourself (and your staff) these questions first. Be honest with yourself too- if you know that the new referral coordinator isn’t a fan of your office then you need to mend that bridge. Or if a patient complained because they didn’t get better right away then maybe you need a 1:1 with the doctor to figure out why.
- Set up a visit to the office and make it clear who you want to speak with. Be prepared—you might have a tough conversation with a staff member today, but tomorrow you will be glad you worked out your differences. Or, you might want to bring your patient’s chart to show the doctor why they struggled to recover and how you can work together to get results.
- Schedule monthly follow up visits to ensure the relationship is mending and closely monitor the number of referrals.
Lastly, there may be some providers decreasing in referrals or who have stopped referring altogether.
Take action and rebuild the referral relationship
Ideally, this is a small list of providers categorized as Serious or Critical. Analyze each doctor individually (especially if there are multiple providers in one office).
- What is the degree of severity? Are you losing 1-2 referrals per week or 15-25 per month?
- What has changed at the office in question? Did they align with a hospital group? Was a new partner or staff member added?
- If there a no known changes at the office, what has changed at your clinic? Have doctors’ office visits fallen off the radar? Did you hire a new staff member and were they properly trained on referral communications?
Prioritize the list and tackle each situation
- External/provider changes: set up an off-site meeting with a provider who you are professionally or personally close with. A change of scene might help to open up the dialogue and get real answers.
- Internal/clinic changes: solicit feedback from trusted staff members. See what marketing efforts have be targeted toward that office in the past couple months.
After triaging and treating your doctor marketing and referral relationships, you will be able to determine what will be most effective in communicating with local providers. Consistency is still key and will help to ensure that steady referrers keep sending patients to the clinic. Similarly, rebuild relationships with declining referrers. But, with concentrated efforts and actions, you can move many of these providers into healthy referral partners through your doctor marketing programs.
For more help with doctor marketing and navigating referrals relationships, give our practice experts a call at 1-800-594-7656.