Developing a strategy to foster referrals is one of the best approaches for growing your patient base. In addition, it is typically one of the least expensive, most manageable things you can do to promote your practice. Read on for several suggestions that can help you gain new patients with a little assistance from those you currently treat.
Deliver consistent, high-quality customer service
Ensuring your staff functions efficiently and regards every patient who walks through your doors amiably and with respect will make for a glowing endorsement that could rival a Times Square billboard. If you do not have one in place, establish a mission statement or standard of excellence that clearly defines the level of care patients receive during office visits and beyond. Create a handy one-sheeter that succinctly yet thoroughly outlines new patient guidelines for all members of your staff. Make it easy (or easier) for patients to schedule appointments, and consider introducing other policies that will help your practice become a stellar standout and generate word of mouth.
Additionally, when a physician is out sick or one of your providers takes vacation time, maintain continuity of quality care for your patients by arranging for the services of an experienced independent contractor from a reputable locum tenens staffing company. This single, cost-effective, and easy-to-implement act will reduce wait times and help you provide the service your patients have come to expect from your practice.
Undoubtedly, you are already striving to deliver exceptional customer service. But continually seeking and implementing new measures for going the extra mile in all facets of your business is a sure-fire way to stimulate the “good buzz” that will organically result in more referrals.
Conduct a referral contest
Invite patients to participate by providing at least one referral in a way that is convenient for them, which—depending on your contest—may be through email, an online entry form, or a traditional handwritten note. Choose the winner using criteria like creativity or humor to distinguish your contest from a lottery or giveaway.
However, before you hold a contest, you should consult a lawyer to be sure you follow the letter of the law. As you operate a medical practice, you likely have an attorney already, and the cost will be a small investment—particularly if you elect to hold monthly or regular patient referral contests. Also, you should include appropriate disclaimers (e.g., “no purchase necessary” and “void where prohibited”) and encourage disclosure, requiring patients to acknowledge their entries are part of a promotion and that they are participating for a chance to win.
You will need to determine a time frame and prize(s), as well, and provide the rules and related information in a prominent place at your office and online. Moreover, you may consider promoting the contest on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.
Ask devoted and trusted patients if they will provide a recommendation for your practice. First and foremost, this gesture will demonstrate that you highly value their opinions. But be sure to let them know it is completely voluntary and at their discretion. If someone appears to be uncomfortable with the request, do not try to cajole them or offer an explanation as to why they should consider doing it. Instead, keep the exchange positive, and assure them you understand and respect their feelings.
A testimonial does not have to be lengthy to have impact. You may even offer your patients some generic examples or provide a “fill in the blank” form to make it easier for them to craft. Furthermore, you could vary the vehicle. Traditional testimonials are in writing, but you might decide to video some of your patient testimonials, too.
Personal recommendations from your current patients could be featured in brochures, or on your website or social media sites. That being said, in all instances, testimonials must be HIPAA compliant, and you should obtain a patient’s written authorization before making his or her testimonial public. (Medical Economics published a helpful article on this topic titled, “Consider patient privacy when marketing your practice.”)
Earn patients’ accolades
Referrals are the lifeblood of a practice and an essential element for expanding your patient network. Remember to thank patients who recommend you to their family members and friends. And strive to deserve their accolades and loyalty every day.
For more tips on advancing your practice, read “3 Smart Things You Can Do to Grow and Maintain Your Patient Base,” and call 855.301.0563 to speak with a knowledgeable Medicus Healthcare Solutions business development executive.