Setting up a Referral Network for Your Practice

Written by on August 30, 2013 in Features - No comments

Developing a strong referral network can be an important advantage for your practice and a source of new patient volume. What are the keys to getting a solid referral structure in place and maintaining strong relationships over time? Let’s examine a few key factors.

Make sure you pick the right specialist. When you are building a referral network, you should to be selective in who you choose to partner with. Spend time getting to know their providers and staff.  Develop a line of communication and make sure there is a similar vision and purpose in both of your practices. It’s easy to simply select some other practices that are convenient to partner with, but it takes real work and effort to pick practices that will be long-lasting and effective.

In the mind of your patients, your referral network is an extension of you and your practice. What’s done well at the practices of your referrals will reflect positively on you. What’s done poorly there, will also reflect negatively on your practice. If your practice has a great communication flow with your patients, be sure that your partners follow a similar philosophy.

Communicate and build your referral relationship. Setup a communication structure so that when you refer a patient, the receiving office gets all the information they need to serve the patient well. Develop follow-up procedures where the office you referred to provides regular updates back to your office on the status of a patient and how they’re responding to the treatment approach. If you receive referrals from other practices, send emails or hand-written thank you notes to the referring physician.  It is also helpful to provide the patient with treatment materials upon discharge.

When the patient returns to their original physician, you want them to be able to have a conversation about the treatment approach you used and how well it worked. The expectation of the patient is that the medical system treating them is talking to each other and sharing information. By providing this kind of communication flow between practices, you’ll create an environment that generates patient satisfaction and more referrals from your ‘specialist network’.

Physician referrals are a significant basis of volume for many practices. Be sure that you get the right infrastructure in place to manage those relationships and over time they will provide even more benefit.

By Philip Driver
CEO, Physician Solutions, Inc.

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