Patient referrals build credibility, boost your reputation as an expert in healthcare and attract new patients to your medical practice. Developing a robust strategy to encourage patient referrals is one of the cheapest, yet the most effective ways for growing your patient base. According to a survey conducted by the Levin Group Data Center, 88.3 percent of respondents said referrals from current patients were the most successful marketing approach.
Here are the 10 most effective ways to increase patient referrals to your medical practice:
- Provide excellent customer service: You must ensure the patient’s visit to your practice is satisfactory. This is because if your patient is not happy with your services, he may still come back to you, but he will never recommend your practice to other people. You must train your staff to treat your patients with respect and care. You must always follow up with your patients after any procedure to ensure their recovery. A dissatisfied patient may not openly express his discontent with your service, but you will eventually see the results when the referrals reduce.
- Acknowledge loyal patients: Your medical practice may have many loyal patients. However, just because they are loyal does not mean you can afford to ignore them. You must nurture relationships with your long-term patients, so they continue to refer your practice to their family and friends.
- Offer an incentive for referring patients: You can offer incentives to your current patients every time they refer a friend or family member to your medical practice. Alternatively, you can give away freebies such as mugs, bottles or pens with your brand logo printed on them every time they post a positive online review of your medical practice.
- Just ask patients for referrals: If your patients are happy and satisfied with your services, they will be more than willing to refer your practice to their friends and family. However, you will have to take the initiative to ask your existing patients for referrals. You just cannot expect your patients to assume you want new referrals. You can communicate your message to your existing patients by putting up prominent signs such as “We welcome new patients!” Your staff can also mention it at checkout, especially to patients who seem very satisfied. You can even consider highlighting it on patient correspondence.
- Get your staff trained: It is critical to train your staff to listen to the needs of your patients. Your staff needs to ensure your patients have the best experience when they visit your practice. You can improve the patient experience by reducing waiting periods, simplifying appointment booking, supporting insurance reimbursements and improving access to health records. An improved patient experience will help increase referrals.
- Encourage testimonials: You can ask trusted patients to provide a testimonial for your practice. This gesture will not only demonstrate that you value their opinion but will also play a significant role in attracting new patients to your medical practice. You can also feature testimonials from current patients in brochures, on social media profiles or on your website.
- Host a referral contest: You can invite patients to participate in the contest by providing one referral in a way that is convenient for them, such as through email, an online form or a handwritten note. You can choose the winner based on criteria like creativity or humor.
- Create a referral plan: You must create a referral marketing plan or work in collaboration with a marketing expert to help you design a plan and then execute it. It is important that you have dedication, patience and trust in your plan. This is because many practices expect instant results from referral programs. It is critical to understand that developing and implementing a referral network is a lengthy process that requires a lot of time, effort and dedication.
- Adopt the latest technology: In today’s digitalized healthcare business, it helps to be technologically savvy in order to share electronic information with patients for improving efficiency and delivering better patient care. The most effective solution for hosting and sharing patient information is cloud-based. This solution will not only allow you to receive referrals electronically but will also eliminate unnecessary paperwork.
- Reevaluate referral relationships: Reevaluating and revamping your relationships with referral sources are critical to the success and growth of your medical practice. To be successful in your referral marketing programs, you must be aware of the changes occurring around you. For instance, what may have been a good referral marketing plan five years ago may not be suitable today.
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Just like any other process in your practice, having an efficient system for attracting patient referrals is important, too. Training your staff on the steps to welcome and handle your patients will go a long way in attracting quality referrals. There are loads of valuable ideas available on the Internet that can help us develop the right message for building patient referrals. Moreover, remember, the more you are focused on building referrals, the more success you will have.