Get more patients by focusing on what’s important to them

Recently, we’ve discussed many ways to improve your practice’s marketing efforts. Having a strong online presence and using digital marketing strategies are important in 2017. But those aren’t the only ways to gain more patients. One of the best ways to attract people to your practice costs you nothing but time: referrals. Getting your current patients and other doctors to refer patients to your practice is actually pretty simple. It boils down to good communication and providing excellent care. Here are five specific ways to boost referrals to your practice.

1. Ask your current patients

One of the easiest ways to get new patients in the door may be right in front of you. Ask any current, satisfied patients to refer their friends and family to you, and see if they’d be willing to post positive reviews and ratings on websites like Yelp and Google. A recent survey found that 84 percent of patients use online reviews to evaluate or choose doctors, reported Healthcare Informatics.

Location and convenience are top reasons patients choose a doctor.

2. Get to know other doctors in your area

While not a quick route to referrals, establishing relationships with doctors in your area—including new practitioners—is one of the surest bets. According to Medscape, less than 10 percent of physicians routinely refer to physicians they don’t know. For the most part, “physicians refer to others in their local area who they know either personally or by reputation,” said Dr. Eli Adashi, a professor of medical science in Providence, R.I., in U.S. News & World Report. This is good news for patients: location and convenience are top reasons patients choose a doctor, according to a recent study by Weatherby Healthcare.

While nothing beats meeting colleagues in person, online medical communities like Sermo and Doximity and networking sites like LinkedIn can help connect you with other doctors in your area and alert you to live events.

3. Help patients understand their health coverage

With more patients now covered by health insurance, and with more health care costs falling on patients, it’s in doctors’ best interest to help patients understand their coverage. Take a few minutes to find out whether patients have a deductible or copay, and show them how to call their insurer or look up online whether a certain provider is in-network. You can even show them this video that helps explain health insurance in simple, visual terms. These extra steps will foster patient loyalty and may encourage satisfied patients to refer you to their family and colleagues who have the same insurance.

4. Give back to your community

We’ve discussed before how participating in charitable activities that are relevant to your target patients gets your name out there, puts your practice in a positive light, and positions you as an expert. Getting involved in philanthropy can also increase referrals from that large and important demographic every business—including medical practices—is trying to attract: millennials. A recent Fortune poll found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely than older generations to want to work for, buy from, and recommend businesses that contribute to charity.

Showing gratitude will motivate colleagues and patients to refer you more often.

5. Show gratitude

It should go without saying that it’s a good idea to thank anyone who refers a patient to your practice. Etiquette experts may insist that a handwritten thank-you card be sent to any patient or doctor who refers someone, while others may argue that in these busy times, thank-you notes could also be sent via email, text, or a phone call. However you show it, “Gratitude will motivate your colleagues and patients to refer you more often,” noted Physicians Practice.


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