Word-of-mouth referrals

The most common way people use to connect with a new doctor is through word of mouth.

“I’ve always gone to Dr. So-and-So for my checkups and general care. He’s caring and thorough.”

“When my mom died in the hospital, I was so glad that Dr. So-and-so was her doctor. He was always gentle.”

“I’d recommend Dr. So-and-So hands down for a pediatrician. He knows his stuff but really likes kids.”

A recent survey found that half of primary care patients took the recommendations of close friends or family members when choosing a new primary care doctor. On the other hand, most patients rely on a physician referral for specialists in surgery, urology, or other areas of medical care.

How do you generate word-of-mouth referrals? You can’t pay your patients to give them. Printing them in an advertisement about your clinic or medical center might help, but they aren’t terribly convincing.

Here are some tips for generating word-of-mouth referrals to your clinical practice:

  • Good advice by Susan Keane Baker, who not only shares many tips and suggestions but also offers book titles she feels deal well with the topic.
  • Have a happy staff. If your receptionist, office manager, nurse, PA, and other team members like you a lot, it will show. A bit of banter, a surprise box of chocolates, friendly smiles for everyone are all ways to endear your office staff to you.
  • Get acquainted with prospective referring people in your community. Make friends with leaders such as the clergy, realtors, police officers, and people already serving the public in a healthcare setting.
  • Give a hearty welcome to new physicians coming to the community, whether they are primary care providers or specialists. Be friendly with all hospital staff, and the office staff of other physicians.
  • When you do receive a referral, keep a stack of “thank you” notes or blank cards handy so you can let the person know how much you appreciate the referral.
  • Get involved. Become active in your local church. Attend picnics and outdoor concerts or other events.
  • Choose your favorite topics and prepare a list of them plus a statement about your availability to go on local radio or TV. You can’t find a better way to make friends quickly, although a newspaper column or interview is also effective.
  • Compliment members of your staff when you take notice of them being especially courteous and patient. There’s lots of work to do, but lots of friends to make as well.

Follow these and other steps that will draw you closer to your patients and the community where you serve. Your patient roster will grow as you are friendly and prove yourself reliable and helpful.

Sources: Physician News, All Business

Compliments of Joyce Griffith, Physician Publishing

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Boosting your medical practice

We’ve noted the following books that deal with ways to increase or improve the performance of a medical practice.

  1. The Medical Group Management Association has produced a book entitled Rx for Business Success: Joining a Medical Practice. The 6×9 inch paperback book has 195 pages and sells for $34.99 at Amazon.com. It was first introduced in 2005.
  2. Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically, 4th edition. By Neil Baum and Gretchen Henkel. The paperback version has 608 pages and costs $71.96 from Amazon.com.
  3. The Ultimate Practice-Building Book, by David W. Zahaluk, MD. Self-published through Trafford Publishing, but a search at Trafford came back empty. The book has 106 pages and an ISBN of 1-4251-3639-7.  Try a book store or look up the doctor in Plano, Texas. The best address I got for him is Family Medicine Assoc, 6300 W Parker Rd Ste G20, Plano, TX 75093, (972) 981-8181. Or go here to learn about the doctor’s coaching systems.
  4. Building Your Ideal Practice. This is not a book but a system you are invited to join. It includes audio seminars, tapes of past seminars and podcasts.  
  5. Lean Six Sigma Subtitle, for the Medical Practice. A book published by Greenbranch Publishing and written by Frank Cohen and Owen Dahl. The subtitle is Improving Profitability by Improving Processes. Six Sigma is a method of business management originally developed by Motorola in 1981.
  6. 27 Proven Marketing Strategies To Boost Your Practice Profits – Medical Edition (Audio CD), by Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf. Available from Amazon.com for $199.

I haven’t found a book on how certain marketing tools can help you develop a bigger or different practice base. Probably the fact is that consultants believe they’ll do better by offering their consulting services than by writing helpful, practical books.

If you come across such a book (helpful, practical), please let me know. If you’ve given up, let me know, too. It could be the next book I produce…

Joyce Griffith, MBA

Brought to you compliments of Griffith Publishing
Producing books for doctors since 1988

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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