Building medical referral relationships is a 5 minute read.

Are you trying to build medical referral relationships for your new practice? If you want to develop a long-lasting referral relationship, you need to provide the benefits that medical professionals are looking for from their referrals. Step into the referring doctor’s shoes and consider what it is they want and need when they make a referral.

Providers with the most successful referral programs offer the following benefits to their referring doctors and patients:

Taking the time to listen: Building strong medical referral relationships often comes down to more than just competent patient treatment. Patients appreciate a practitioner who listens carefully, takes time to answer questions, treats them with respect and follows up with them after treatment. Doing these things will build your reputation as a caring and high quality provider.

Timely appointments: It is frustrating for a referring doctor when their patient has to wait long periods of time for an appointment. Make a special effort to accommodate the referred patient as soon as possible (and see them quickly once they arrive at your office). Reassure the referring doctor by letting them know when an appointment for their patient has been made.

Prompt understandable reports: Communication is key in good referral relationships. When a referred patient makes an appointment, notify the referring doctor that their patient has been scheduled and thank them for the referral. Let the doctor know you will keep them informed of their patient’s treatment and follow through with regular progress reports. Include the referring doctor in important decisions about their patient, such as the need to refer them on to another specialist.

Hassle-free interactions with office staff: Your office staff could be damaging your medical referral relationships. If a doctor finds your staff difficult to deal with, they may stop referring. Make sure your staff appreciate the importance of referring doctors. Ensure your staff are always responsive, courteous and professional to doctors and members of staff who refer patients to you.

Acceptance of the patients’ insurance: A doctor will typically only send their patient to a provider that is able to accept the patient’s insurance.

The assurance that the patient will be sent back to them: Doctor’s don’t want to lose their patients when they send them to you. Ensure trust by always sending the patient back to the referring doctor after their treatment. This also helps you to secure further referrals since the happy patient can inform the doctor of the great job you did caring for them.

Remember to communicate regularly: Ongoing communication is key to cultivating new referrals from your referral sources. Referring doctor’s need up to date information about the services you offer and the kind of patients you can help.

Invest time in finding out what information your referring doctors need from you, as well as how often, and in what form, they want to receive that information. To do this effectively it is worth putting someone in charge of implementing an ongoing communications program.

Your ongoing program could take the form of a regular newsletter (either print or electronic), professional ‘alerts’ or personal notes or letters. Be sure that your communications contain valuable information that is relevant to your referring doctors. Communicate the benefits you provide by letting doctors know how you can make their (and their patients) lives better.

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