Physician referrals are an excellent way to not only build relationships but also to build your practice. Use the simple, four-part CARE system and see how it can help you to increase your practice today:
C = CHOOSE the best person on your staff to take the lead with you in building upon existing relationships and increasing referrals to and from other practitioners and within the medical/dental community.
Who currently handles making and following up on referrals? Which staff person receives and acts upon referrals received? Examine their “fit” to the tasks assigned. If your referral base is stagnant, it may be time to re-assign staff. Choose staff who are knowledgeable, personable, and detail-oriented and who understand your established practice-building goals.
Once the staff assignments are completed, ensure that all staff understand the overall mission and that they are aware that your practice — and they with it — will soon benefit and thrive from the improved system being put into place. Make sure to set up a incentive program to keep things on track, read more here, When Was the Last Time You Gave Your Practice a “Checkup”
A = ASSESS and ACT. Assign designated key staff to assess the current status of your referral base. Set a reasonable time frame for completion of the assessment, but know that this will be the most time-consuming part of the process.
The assessment may be divided into several steps:
- Create a list of all practitioners to whom you made referrals. The list should include all physicians to whom you have made referrals within a specified time frame, say the past six or twelve months. Also to be included is information about each practitioner: Full name and title, practice address and telephone, facsimile, e-mail address, area of specialty, name and title of contact person, and the dates and number of referrals made and number of referrals accepted within the specified time frame.
- Create a list of all practitioners from whom you received referrals. Your list should include all practitioners from whom you have received referrals within the same specified time frame. Also to be included is information about each practitioner, as specified above, as well as the dates and number of referrals received and number of referrals accepted within the specified time frame.
- Create a list of all others to whom you made or from whom you received referrals — hospitals, clinics, social services agencies or departments. Collect information, as listed above, for each entity.
- Brainstorm with staff to come up with a target list of new referral sources. Follow up by having key staff collect all required practitioner information. ACT on this list by personally contacting each practitioner on your target list. Make a call. Make a visit. Invite them to lunch. Compose a letter spelling out all the results-oriented reasons they should partner with you in making and receiving referrals. Now’s the time to get creative! Consider offering a prize to the top 3 staff (time off, gift cards, lunch — you know best what drives your staff!) whose recommendations result in a practitioner who agrees to participate with you in referrals.
R = REVISE your existing referral base by using your assessment results.
- Delete stagnant referrals — those to/from whom you’ve not made or received a referral within your chosen time frame.
- Add all those new referrals you gained during the ACT phase of your assessment.
While you’re at it, revise your referral paperwork (make new “originals” to replace those tired referral forms your staff have copied hundreds of times or, if you’ve gone digital, be sure to tweak your system so that your digital forms are flawless. Have staff check all forms, whether paper or digital, for completeness of information, spelling and grammar, and overall ease of use and professionalism. If something looks sloppy or incomplete, it probably is.
Now you’re ready to put your NEW referral system in place, so set a date and GO! Remember to have key staff track and make notes on what’s working and what isn’t, together with suggested revisions, along the way. Set a target date six months out from your launch date to perform the final step:
E = EVALUATE your results. How did you do? How many new referrals have you received/made? What other tweaks or changes might be needed to your system? Be sure to get front-line information from your staff — how do they think the new system is working?
Most practices are trying to manually track these interactions using a spreadsheet, or notes – But as you probably have experienced, it’s a huge headache and very inaccurate to manage referrals with paper. Sign up to ReferralMD and start using an electronic referral system where both practitioners can exchange referrals online without the back and forth of paper faxes and triplicate forms. Best of all we track everything for you automatically. Finally, no more questions as to who were my best referral colleagues or who didn’t send me enough.
Once you’ve used the CARE system to revise and improve your overall referral system, you’ll be amazed at the results. Keep cycling through the four steps for a continual quality improvement effect on your practice.
Ask yourself this today: Do I CARE enough to take just four steps to increase my practice, my community relationships, and my income?
If you’re looking for other ideas for referral marketing or practice management, please contact us to sign up to start using an electronic referral management solution today.