How to keep new patients coming in: 5 physician referral strategies for ASCs

Most ASCs consider referral marketing the most important marketing strategy for continuously bringing in new patients, according to MindStream Creative.

Here are five key strategies for generating physician referrals:

1. Build relationships. Physicians must take the time to develop healthy relationships with referral sources. Medical expertise alone won't generate referrals. Ask referral sources about their challenges and needs so you can directly address their problems.

2. Set priorities. Some referral sources will refer all patients to your practice, but others might make more intermittent referrals. Most referrals are driven by a small percentage of total contacts. Segment referral sources into three or four groups based on their volume and frequency of referrals:

  • 'A' group: Top referrers
  • 'B' group: Less frequent referrers with the potential to become great referral sources
  • 'C' group: Refer even less frequently and may primarily provide referrals to other providers
  • 'D' group: May have given referrals in the past, but not consistently

Visit 'A' and 'B' offices at least every six weeks and 'C' and 'D' offices bi-monthly or quarterly to avoid losing referrals to competition.

3. Branch out. Support staff is often involved in the decision-making behind physician referrals. Work to build relationships with nurse, tech or other staff members, whose opinions are valued by patients.

4. Reduce complexity. Simplify the referral process for referring providers. Busy faxes, unreturned phone calls and poor communication are barriers to referrals. Designate a fax number for referrals, select a point of contact for referring providers and give them regular status updates.

5. Seek help. For physicians who struggle to find time to build relationships with referral sources, it may help to appoint a physician liaison or find an outsourced representative. This person should be friendly, knowledgeable, comfortable speaking with physicians and sales-oriented. It's also important that the physician liaison has a strong clinical knowledge.

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