In the industry of healthcare, a practice’s success depends on its ability to acquire referrals. Yet too many physicians overlook the fact that the patient is not the only party in the referral process. Optimal location is no longer enough, as patients are willing to travel farther to see physicians their doctors trust and recommend. Beyond a physician’s relationship with the patient is the relationship with other practices that is established over the course of the referral process. This relationship often goes under nurtured, despite the seemingly obvious and simple ways it can thrive.
Quality services are, of course, key to the referral process. Meeting patient expectations and offering a certain level of care is essential to securing business, though this is by no means the only consideration to be weighed. There are other factors that weigh more heavily with referring offices, and these components of a practice must be fulfilled to guarantee referral security.
Firstly, the amount of new patients that can be seen is a critical issue. If new patients are made to wait months before being able to see a physician, the referring office is likely to find another physician who can deliver care faster. If a practice is too busy, fewer referred patients will ever make it through the office doors, thus eliminating the potential for acquiring new patients. To remedy scheduling issues, a practice should conduct an internal assessment of its appointment time allocations, hours of operation, and cancellation rates to develop a practical and effective appointment system.
If a practice is able to take on new patients, it’s crucial that referrals are not picked through for the most desirable or preferred cases. Referring offices will not take kindly to the inconsistent rate of acceptance. As ideally every referral should be taken, the practice should also ensure that quality, complete reports and updates are sent to the referring office for every patient in order to establish a strong reputation for reliability and willingness to correspond. Furthering the idea of willingness to correspond, a practice should employ friendly administrative staff that will be cooperative and responsive to referring offices.
Lastly, it is key to send referrals back from there referring offices. Complete record keeping is key. Referring offices do not send over patients with the intention of forfeiting the patient; referrals are intended to ensure that a patient receives the comprehensive, quality care that is needed. Referring a patient back to the office from which he/she was referred is the surest way to develop profitable and reliable relationships between offices.