Last updated: December 20, 2020
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Increase your patient referrals for a cost-effective way to market your practice.
The power of patient communication cannot be unestimated in your practice’s marketing plan.
Patient referrals are an invaluable resource for both your patients and your practice. Not only are patient referrals an inexpensive way to market your practice, but referrals from existing patients are believed to be more valuable than acquiring new patients in terms of retention, revenue and lifetime value.
Increasing Patient Referrals are Important to your Practice
Of course, patient referrals are a great way to grow your practice. However, many physicians are unsure about how to go about it. After all, medical school doesn’t often spend much time on the latest marketing strategies. Fortunately, this is where we come in.
Marketing your practice effectively requires a multi-faceted approach. Within this, utilizing patient referrals is an ideal way of increasing your patient list with minimal cost.
While increasing your patient referrals is a low cost, it is also extremely effective. Taking the time to implement a few simple marketing strategies to encourage and increase your patient referrals is a cost-effective way to grow your practice with patients who are more likely to be loyal to your practice.
Referrals are Important to Patients
Not only are referrals important to your practice, but they are also important to patients. Patients tend to complete transactions with a herd mentality. This is why so many consumers (and patients) rely on reviews to determine where they should spend their time and money. A group of positive reviews is more powerful than most marketing techniques. A patient referral takes this technique one step further.
Consider this, you should be getting more than 50% of your new patients from referrals by existing patients. If this is not the case, it is important to consider whether you are taking the right steps to encourage the patient referral process.
Now that we have established the importance of patient referrals, what steps should a practice take to increase them?
Increase your Patient Referrals with your Social Network Marketing Strategy
Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Your website and social media are great ways to reach out to new patients and promote referrals. These platforms are an ideal extension of your practice and help you to stay connected to your patients.
Considering that almost 72% of internet users spend time on social media, it makes sense that your practice should also have a presence online. Your online presence lets your patients know that your practice is up to date on modern practices. It also lends itself to online reviews, which are a great value for prospective patients doing online research.
Increase your Patient Referrals by encouraging Online Testimonials and Reviews
Many practices may not realize the importance of encouraging online testimonials and reviews. Positive reviews and testimonials do more than provide social proof for prospective patients to take the first step to visit you. These reviews help your practice maintain transparency and encourage trust, which goes a long way in promoting patient goodwill.
It also shows your patients that you value their opinion and are open to taking their suggestions.
Of course, if your patients are hesitant to provide testimony or your online reviews are not overly positive it may be time to look at your customer service strategy as well as your support staff. By encouraging online reviews you will be able to quickly nip any behavior or policies that may be upsetting your patients. This type of feedback is invaluable for both attracting new patients as well as keeping your current ones.
Increase your Patient Referrals by Asking for Them
It may sound simple, but a great way to increase your patient referrals is simply to ask for them. While it may take a little getting used to, asking your patients to refer their friends and family is not only much less money than a marketing campaign, it is also more effective.
Asking for referrals does have to be a complicated process. You can communicate directly with your patients, send texts, emails, or simply hang a sign in your waiting area.
Don’t hesitate because you are worried it will upset your patients. On the contrary, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a business or product, but only 29% do – only because they weren’t asked. Sadly, only about 30% of companies actually take the initiative to ask for referrals, so many are not taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool.
Increase your Patient Referrals by Starting a Referral Program
We know that patient referral are an important marketing tool for your practice, so why not invest in it? Creating a referral program is an easy way to encourage this practice by using either cash or non-cash based incentives as a reward.
However, it is important to first research the laws in your area in regards to starting these types of programs. In some areas referral programs in which cash, gift cards, or discounted procedures are not allowed. This falls under the Anti-Kickback Statute in the United States and depending on where your practice is located the rules will vary. In some areas, a referral program is not allowed where insurance is being used. In other areas, it is not allowed no matter how the services are being paid for.
Start your Referral Program the Right Way
If you are able to start a referral program, it is important to do it right.
- Keep it simple: Create an online or paper form that has a spot for new patients to add the name of the person who referred them.
- Only ask for the information necessary: Too much paperwork will discourage the process.
- Say thank you: Make sure to acknowledge and thank your patients for their referrals.
- Reward in real-time: If you are rewarding your patients for their referral, be sure to do it in a prompt manner.
Increase your Patient Referrals by Engaging your Staff in the Referral Process
Once you have determined whether you are able to start a referral program, it is time to engage your staff in the process. Happy staff members are a great way to bring in new patients to your practice.
While there is always an opportunity to reward the staff member with the most referrals, by instead setting specific goals with specific rewards, you have the opportunity to reward (and encourage) every staff member involved in the program.
Even if you are not able to run a rewards program for your staff, you can still encourage your staff to refer their friends and family. Studies show that keeping your employees happy and appreciating their hard work can have a direct impact on your business.
This is because happiness increases productivity which leads to higher engagement. Not only do happy employees pay more attention to the needs of your patients but they are also more aware of your practice’s processes.
A recent study from Boston Consulting Group found that most people found that the number one thing most people want from their job is simple, to be appreciated for their hard work. So if you are unable to reward your staff monetarily, you can simply recognize all their hard work.
Increase your Patient Referrals by Getting Involved in the Community
Another great way to get new patient referrals is to give back to the community. Join a local event or health camp to share important health tips and information as well as meet and greet new potential patients. This is a great way to make a lasting impression on potential patients as well as provide a valuable community service.
Be sure to have plenty of branded freebies on hand to give out to remind the attendees of your practice as well as handouts to provide important information for visitors.
Ensure you are on-staff at hospitals near your practice
A staff position at a nearby hospital is an ideal way for independent clinics to drive referral visits. This is a valuable position as it will get you listed as a consultant on the hospital website which is a great reference tool for potential patients. Considering that six out of 10 people choose a healthcare provider based on their location, being listed at a local hospital is an amazing asset.
Furthermore, getting to know other physicians and health providers is a great way to get those professionals to send referrals your way. Interacting with staff can help them to get to know your bedside manner, which is important in gaining their trust for a referral.
Increase Patient Referrals by Offering Virtual Care
Offering your patients the option to receive care virtually where applicable is an attractive feature for the modern patient.
The rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has forced healthcare providers to adjust to an abrupt shift in the traditional North American health care delivery model. By being an early adapter to meet the needs of patients, staff, and communities you are presenting your practice as innovative, technologically advanced, and sensitive to the needs of your patients.
Virtual care offers a convenience that many patients enjoy. In fact, a 2016 National Institute of Health survey of 3,000 patients indicated between 94 – 99% of respondents were “very satisfied” with telehealth. Furthermore, one-third of the respondents stated they preferred the telehealth experience to an in-office doctor visit.
Virtual Care goes Hand in Hand with Patient Satisfaction
In order to get more patient referrals and positive reviews, you need to have a high level of patient satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, virtual care goes hand in hand with patient satisfaction. However, not all virtual care solutions offer these benefits. Your Doctors Online Virtual Clinic offers an innovative virtual care solution that addresses both the concerns of the patient as well as the concerns of the practitioner. This is because we are the virtual care solution that was developed by doctors for doctors. We know the unique needs of a medical practice so we are better able to address them.
Streamlining the patient registration process can improve patient satisfaction. Your Doctors Online has improved this process for both the practitioner and the patient. Our online platform is simple and your clinic can be easily set up in about 10 minutes. Inviting your patients to our platform is as simple as sending an email.
Automated Appointment Reminders
Patients love the ease of automated appointment reminders and your practice will benefit from a streamlined administration process and fewer missed appointments. Instead of wasting precious staff time calling your patients to remind them of their appointment, our free smartphone application will send a reminder directly to your patient’s phone. Since the appointment can be done virtually anywhere, there will be fewer missed appointments.
Virtual care allows your patients to connect with you virtually for small reasons such as follow up appointments and prescription refills. This combines a great quality of care as well as convenience for your patients. They can stay connected with you without having to rearrange their entire day to keep an in-office appointment.
This appreciation for your patient’s busy schedule will set you apart as a provider and deliver the type of care that is more likely to increase referrals.
Remove limits to Increasing Patient Referrals with Virtual Care
Virtual care removes the limitations that geography can present. We know that six out of 10 people choose a healthcare provider based on their location, but how many would rather be able to choose based on something other than location? With virtual care, your loyal patients can refer friends and family who live out of your area. The possibilities for referral are endless.
Are you Limiting your Practice by not Offering Virtual Care?
Telemedicine offers a great opportunity for practitioners to modernize and streamline their practice, and it also appeals to the modern patient.
Claims related to any type of telehealth grew 624% from 2014 – 2018. This is a staggering number, especially considering all of these claims were pre-COVID.
Today’s patients are even more drawn to the safety and security virtual consultation provides in safeguarding their health from any potential exposure. The potential for virtual care growth in the future is endless. However, if your practice is not offering virtual care, you could be left behind.
Increase Patient Referrals by Listening to your Patient’s Needs
One of the great attributes of a good physician is their ability to truly listen to their patients. Increasing patient referrals cannot happen without satisfied patients and happy staff. These are all things that can easily be accomplished by offering virtual care.
The Best All in One Virtual Care Solution
Your Doctors Online Virtual Clinic is an easy to use scheduling, teleconferencing and notation system that increases both efficiency and revenue while lowering costs.
Patients can be easily onboarded in minutes. Patients are able to take control of their healthcare by setting their own appointments, queuing for real-time consultations, and getting push notification reminders about their appointments.
The needs of your patients are changing and so is the modern model of primary care. The Your Doctors Online Virtual Clinic is the perfect all-in-one solution to streamline care, increase efficiency and capture lost revenue.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.
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