Medical Referral Marketing is a Process, But a Profitable One

Many of the healthcare specialists that I work with acquire most of their patients from medical referrals. For example, Cardiologists and Orthopedics typically get most of their patients referred by Internists and Primary Care Physicians. Oncologists receive many of their patients from OB/GYN’s and Urologists. Dental specialists, such as Endodontists and Periodontists, gain referrals from General Dentists. Many specialists focus their marketing efforts on their referral sources, not on the patient, because it’s more cost-effective.

Some specialties could benefit from marketing more consistently to medical professionals instead of directly to the patient. Too many Audiologists spend excessively on hearing aid advertising when they could influence physicians to refer hearing impaired patients to their practice for hearing evaluations that could lead to hearing aid sales.

How do you build your referral sources to increase referrals? It’s not as simple as taking one of your fellow doctors out to lunch and then expecting them to refer their patients to you. This PROCESS includes a few critical steps in order to be successful.

Step #1 is creating and managing a database of all of your current referral sources, as well as potential referral sources. You’ll need to determine who to target and prioritize the best prospects on this list. You’ll also need to track the results of all your efforts.

Step #2 – Keep your name and your brand in the minds of both your current and potential referral sources by marketing to them on a regular basis. This includes direct mail, newsletters, email (if that’s a particular source’s preferred method of communication), and most importantly, an outreach program that utilizes a practice representative or “practice liaison”, who will personally meet with the doctors and staff of these practices on your behalf, in order to establish credibility and build trust.

The practice rep is a critical part of this process. Occasionally, the practice owner may serve this function. However, for most established practices, this isn’t the best use of your time. An existing staff member could serve as your rep on a part-time basis.

The 3rd critical step is a commitment to doing this consistently. Initially, it may take time to get results. Also, a common mistake many practices make when they market to referral sources is they do it for a while, get good results, and then they stop and eventually their referrals decline.

Healthcare professionals refer their patients to other professionals they know and they trust. Their reputation is on the line. To gain their trust, it may take time to reinforce why it’s in their patients’ best interests to come to you. Stick with the process CONSISTENTLY to maximize your results.

If you need help increasing medical referrals to your practice, contact me for assistance. If you’re an Audiologist and would like more detailed information on medical referral marketing within the hearing healthcare industry, read my recent article in Audiology Online called “The Medical Referral Marketing Process – The alternative to Advertising”.

Proven Strategies for a Strong, Profitable Practice!

Commercial Agents – Referral Opportunity for New Business and Listings

It is no secret that the commercial property market is a challenge at the moment for real estate agents as property owners struggle with high vacancy levels and unsold listings. This then says that we need to be proactive and productive when it comes to building relationships and opportunities for our clients. The referral process should be a formal part of your marketing strategy and used in your real estate business.

So many referrals can come from people that you know or have had something to do with as a specialist commercial agent. They people to provide you with leads would normally be:

  • Previous property owners that you have acted for in the sale of a property
  • Property Investors and portfolio owners that own other property in and about the local area
  • Previous landlord clients that you have supported in property leasing and or property management
  • The maintenance contractors that look after your managed properties for the landlord clients within your agency
  • Tenants that you have successfully placed into other commercial or retail properties locally
  • Tenants in your managed properties will always know a lot about the local business activity and other businesses nearby
  • Engineers, architects, solicitors, and accountants, that have something to do with property activity in the local area
  • Local councilors or members of the municipal level of government
  • Previous people that have enquired about other listings that were on your books for sale or for lease

This list can be expanded given your local property precinct. Who do you know that can be a source of leads?

Property developers that you know and have served with regard to other transactions locally will be prepared to share information with you providing you have established a good foundation of trust with them.

When you have listed a property locally for sale or lease, the other businesses nearby will be a significant source of local market intelligence and potential referral. The listing on your books gives you an advantage to network and a reason to talk to all adjacent property owners and occupiers. Ask them about the local property market any changes that they are aware of.

Property planning consultants that have been involved with property changes or challenges in some of your listings are another source of opportunity. These people understand the changes that are active in the local area and they can give you significant leads.

The local planning committee or planning authority is constantly dealing with property changes and property zoning issues. Keep close to the activities of the planning committee to check on any pending approvals or current issues under discussion. Normally there are publicly available minutes from the Planning Committee of current matters of consideration.

So this is a significant group of people to network and seek referrals from. They will all know other people that have links to property activity. The referral opportunity that exists within this list is significant. To tap into this opportunity is just a matter of asking the right questions wherever and whenever possible.

Business conversions from a referral are much higher in success than that which you get in a cold call contact. Referral opportunity is based on relationships and those relationships can help you open doors with new people. To convert more referral business, you simply need the mindset and the ability to ask the right questions in every meeting.

Vertigo and Balance Problems – Screening For Appropriate Referral

With complaints of dizziness, vertigo or disequilibrium, symptoms can be the result of vestibular, neurologic, vascular, psychologic and even orthopedic pathology. As such, it is not always clear which specialty is appropriate for referral. In this age of cost awareness and effectiveness, the primary care physician must make important decisions as to the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of diagnostic procedures and referrals to specialists.

Patient’s complaining of dizziness or disequilibrium without obvious objective signs, for lack of a more specific diagnostic direction, are often referred for MRI/CAT scan imaging studies to rule out the possibility of brain lesions. The cost effectiveness of this decision deserves scrutiny, as the yield of these studies is very low whereas the diagnostic yield of appropriate physical examination in the doctor’s office is very high. “Balance disorders are common, while brain tumors are rare”. Prior to the commencement of tests such as MRI, points that need consideration are the likelihood that MRI will provide any relevant diagnostic information and whether the sensitivity of less expensive more diagnostically useful tests can be performed first. In our office, the goal of the initial office examination is to determine the probable cause of the patient’s symptoms.

A directed history and extensive neurologic physical examination allows for more exacting diagnosis and thus successful treatment. Unfortunately, in this day of managed care, many providers must succumb to time constraints prohibiting extensive examinations, necessitating referrals to specialists. Currently, 50% of patients seen in the primary care setting receive no diagnosis for their complaints of dizziness, yet 70% receive a prescription for meclizine, (Antivert). Meclizine has not been demonstrated to be effective or appropriate in the treatment of chronic disequilibrium, dizziness or imbalance. It is occasionally effective in reducing nausea associated with vertigo/spinning in some forms of chronic vertiginous disease, however, it is not curative in any way, and in fact interferes with the natural recovery process often worsening matters further. It is appropriate to state at this time, that you do not need a specialist referral to consult with me in my office.

Social Media Marketing Means Free Referrals

Looking for new clients for virtually every enterprise, small or big, is the lifeblood of its prosperity and robustness. Without new prospects and making new sales there is no way an enterprise can withstand.

As important as this is and has been, the retention of old clients and seeking those buyers for referrals is becoming way more vital.

Merchants are waking up to exactly how important this is, and are spending more in attempting to keep present consumers at a higher quantity of customer contribution and service. General Motors has put this towards the top of their precedence list, and is hoping for sixty-eight percent.

Independent business marketing specialist and organizer of the Duct Tape Marketing System, John Jantsch, talks about the Seven Actions To Developing a Marketing Procedure. This technique and these procedures are elementary to getting competent customers and then flipping them into referrals. Jantsch defines advertising and marketing as, “Persuading someone who possesses a need to understand, like, and put your trust in you”.

Establishing individual references from those who possess a need to love, understand, and have confidence in you should be reasonably effortless and potent, so long as you have a technique and you are routinely building that confidence.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, where looking into clientele and referrals can at this time result from social media tools and communities, at the same time. That is correct, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Podcasts, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube pretty much all can be extremely fertile recommendation sources. Our social media sites give people greater opportunity to “understand, love, and depend on” us through whatever we produce and say, and what other folks publish and mention about us.

Are you running all possible worlds to build up recommendations?

The main effect on beauty buyers in every single sector all over the world is assistance from family and friends. With social websites, they’re not only capable of getting well timed brand details right from brands, but also all the validation from authorities and good friends.

Listed below are five actions you can take to build up word-of-mouth from your online community and clientele.

1. Construct Associations Instead of Financial Dealings.

If buyers have business dealings with folks that they like, recognize, and trust, then establishing associations in place of having transactions is the means to do that, and obtain recommendations.

2. Use Consumer Reviews

Use the strength of pleased customers and dependable devotees. Keep updating your customer feedback on LinkedIn and put them up on your websites.

3. Be Sure to Ask People

Identify crucial people who you possibly can ask for referrals, a written recommendation, or an online endorsement.

4. Regularly Develop Your Circle

Combine your web and face-to-face social networking technique and get individualized with folks. Connect with folks person and employ the web 2.0 models as a bridge. They are going to remember the way you cause them to truly feel.

5. Acquire the Referral Behavior

Make building and getting individual references a fundamental portion of your own everyday routines.

The conversion efficiency of referrals from pleased clientele is close to 50%. Make use of existing human relationships to change clientele into your sales force.

Always make it a point to ask the correct consumers the following queries:

“Who are you aware of that might reap benefits, like you have, from this community, solution, or service”?

“Might you propose or make an intro to them for me?”

Take more time exploring trusted referrals and observe what happens.

Medical Specialists – The Choice Is Yours!

You’ve seen your primary care doctor, and she feels you need to see a specialist or have more tests. She identifies the specialist (or lab or imaging facility) and tells you that’s where she wants you to go. Sometimes, she’ll even have her front office staff schedule the appointments for you. Now that’s service! But did you know that you can go wherever you would like to go for your medicals care? You don’t need to go where your doctor sends you.

Here are some falsehoods that you should consider when you need specialty care or services:

I Must Go Where My Doctor Sends Me.

FALSE. In fact, it might be a violation of federal and state laws if your doctor tells you where you must go for care. Your doctor’s opinion should be seriously considered as a factor in choosing your care. But it should be just one factor among many others to consider: location, family and friend testimonials, appointment availability, and treatment philosophy are some things you should look into to find the specialist or service provider that’s right for you. One size does not fit all, so find the provider that fits your needs.

My Doctor Is Always Looking Out For My Best Interests.

FALSE. Have you ever heard of a “Quality Score”? I hadn’t either until an MD friend of mine slipped up and mentioned this over dinner one night. It’s a dirty little secret among physicians.

I think the easiest way to look at this is to look at how salespeople are sometimes compensated. If a business wants to sell more of product A than product B at some point in time, the salespeople will be paid a higher commission for selling product A. It’s human nature in a capitalist economy; we’ll usually push what can bring us more money. Well, doctors who are parts of groups are usually paid bonuses to drive specific behavior that management wants, and some of that bonus is based on where you are sent for specialty care.

Over the years, at least a half-dozen referring doctors have called us and informed us that they would no longer be sending patients to us. They each told us that they recognize that we provide the highest possible quality care available, but that they just couldn’t deal any longer with the pressure from management to refer to the group’s “preferred providers”. In fact, one patient related to me that his doctor said he didn’t feel he needed to send his patients to “the best”, that the specialists or service providers to whom he referred just need to be “good enough”.

So, once again, you need to be looking out for yourself and use available resources (friends, family, etc.) to find the specialists that are right for you.

My Doctor Would Not Refer Me For Specialty Services If I Didn’t Need Them.

FALSE. There was an interesting blog post in the Washington Post [1] from January 2012:

“Referrals to medical specialists have more than doubled in the past decade, according to research published… in the Archives of Internal Medicine… The big question is why doctors have become more likely to send their patients to specialists… And, part of it likely has to do with the economics of referrals: Doctors who have an ownership stake in their practice are 50 percent more likely to refer to a specialist, which would increase the total revenue generated by a given patient.

“Remember my previous point? Compensation is a motivator and a factor among many physicians. If the doctor can benefit from the referral, she’s 50% more likely to make that referral.

The bottom line is that you need to look out for yourself and choose the specialists and specialty care that are right for you. Of course, make sure that the provider you choose accepts your health insurance. But THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS.

[1] “Why are we seeing so many specialists?”, Sarah Kliff, 01/24/2012, The Washington Post, Wonkblog