The survey posted in Becker’s Hospital Review explains why the referral process is critical for the growth of any practice. Patient referrals can be an invaluable and inexpensive way to market your services to prospective patients. Consumers, are influenced by not only reviews of services they read online, but also of reviews or recommendations they receive from their peers. By leveraging your current patient base, you will be able to boost the awareness for your practice and ultimately increase your revenue.
The easiest way to start accruing referrals is to simply to ask your patients. Texas Tech University surveyed consumers on referral marketing and determined that 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service but only 29% actually go through the referral process. Gaining positive word-of-mouth referrals from your existing patients can be an inexpensive alternative to advertising through more traditional channels. A simple sign in your office saying that you would appreciate referrals from your patients is all it takes. If you’d like to be more proactive, take the opportunity to ask patients face-to-face through text messages or emails.
You may even consider offering discounts or incentives to motivate patients into initiating this process. Most of the time, the consumer may be more inclined to take the next step if there is an incentive involved for those that are referring new patients or coming in from a patient referral.
In a previous blog, we discussed the importance of establishing your online presence. Part of this process includes posting reviews from your current patients. Once the patient referral process is initiated, most consumers will visit your website and do a search online for their research. Having these reviews listed for easy viewing is one of the most efficient ways to attract these new patients.
You will want to encourage your patients to share their feedback online by sending a follow-up email thanking them for their visit while including a little reminder of the importance of their review. Prior to directing patients to your site, make sure your website is responsive and works equally well on mobile devices. This will help both your existing patient and potential newcomers make an informed decision before calling your practice for an appointment. This best practice will help move along the patient referral process while also increasing traffic to your site.
As usually is the case with most physician visits, your patients will usually interact with the front office staff before and after seeing you. This gives you and your team ample time to educate your patients about the benefits of your newly formed patient referrals program. Empower them to discuss the benefits of the program with all existing patients. Your staff should not only know about how the program works but also if there are any immediate or long-term perks for them and for the potential new patient.
Let your staff be in charge of following up with both referral parties, thus creating a more integrated and complete process. Allowing them to manage the program in this way can help increase the overall rapport between your front office staff and patient base. Current patients will have ties to patients and your staff will be the ones handling their referral perks and future visits. These overlapping connections will help further nurture the relationships with everyone involved, thus opening the door for an increase in patient satisfaction patient referrals.
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