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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