Almost every patient going through a severe sickness will, at some point, require a physician referral. Most of the time, patients are not provided with enough options. A physician referral is made based on several factors. One of the aspects is who is in their healthcare system. That discussed, how do doctors arrive at deciding to refer a patient? Let us explore this question.
Keeping business in house
Just like any other business, the doctor does not want to lose their client. This means that patients are no different from other clients in a business setting. Patient retention or physician referral has slowly become the norm in every healthcare facility. Most nurses work directly with the hospital. If the time comes to seek specialized treatment such as seeing a cardiologist, that referral will go to the physician working with the same hospital. Big healthcare facilities most of the time state that keeping referrals in-house improves the quality of care, reduces the costs of not having to transfer to another hospital, and also in a large way improves coordination.
What the reality is, keeping patients in the same facility brings in more substantial revenue, more than walk-in patients bring in. According to a revenue survey study, a hospital earns an average of about 2.13 million dollars annually from physician referrals. That is a substantial amount that will continue to be on the rise since physicians have become more aggressive in releasing physician referrals.
What impacts referral patterns?
Aside from in-house referrals being the driving force of physician referral, what else is to consider? If a particular physician unaffiliated with a healthcare facility, then they could be based more on convenience. What this means is that physicians are more likely to refer their patients to other facilities they know and may have worked with before.
In other instances, convenience may take place when a physician looks at the patient’s insurance cover and goes with any random option they are familiar with. When it comes to insurance policies and covers, money is what comes to play.
That discussed, what are some of the ways to get physician referrals to your medical practice?
Primary care physicians will, in most cases, refer patients to specialists. In many cases, they will give recommendations to physicians they know and trust. The physician referred to a physician may not be in the patient’s network. A study done a few years ago found that while seventy-seven percent of healthcare providers know it is essential to keep patients in-network, seventy-nine percent will still refer their patients to physicians outside their network. What might have translated to that is as a result of previous success with the physician. The same survey also proved that seventy-two percent of healthcare providers tend to stick with the same physicians when referring to patients. However, since only 40 percent of providers seemed to be aware of the information whether their referrals were the most preferred choice for each patient, that leaves a gap in opportunities to gain physician referrals.
Below are some of the ways to do it:
1. Create relationships with other physicians.
An effective way to get a physician referral is to make yourself available. If new physicians move to a particular area you are situated, send them welcome notes or stop by their health facility to say hello. Attend any meetings that involve physicians so you can meet established physicians such as yourself.
As you meet new physicians, take the initiative to follow up with them, and build healthy relationships. It could meet setting up lunch meetings or by simply calling them. As simple as it may sound, this is essential in building your physician referral network. Connecting on social media is also an ideal way to network, as it will keep your name at the top of the best physician’s mind when it comes to getting them to refer patients your way.
2. Get involved with your community.
While this may prove a bit difficult to get new referrals, getting your mane out there can end up being useful to you. By getting involved with your community, you put your name out there, and it is most likely that you will get recognition. For instance, you could volunteer to sponsor an upcoming youth even in the community you live in. Not only will this offer you the chance to introduce yourself as a physician, but it is also a great way to network and bond with people. Community members will most likely take note of your involvement, and it may boost your physician referral.
3. Demonstrate your expertise.
Most doctors will want their patients handled in the best way possible. Look at ways you can prove and demonstrate your field of expertise, as it will make you more trustworthy. Whether it means contributing to articles related to medical studies or appearing for interviews on TVs, this will make you relevant. Publish articles related to heart health if you are a cardiologist and ways to take care of the skin if you are a dermatologist. With these efforts, you will gain more credibility in that particular area.
4. Provide timely updates to the referral physician.
To continue getting referrals, it is vital to ensure that the doctor who referred the patient to you gets an update at the right time. Not only does this show that you appreciate the referral, but it is also vital in helping them provide better care when it comes to patients. Make phone calls and all the relevant follow-ups as it will build your name.
5. note of who refers to patients.
Finding the same referrals is an integral way of expanding your practice. Keep note of all the patients referred to you and the rates at which you get more referrals. If the referrals keep declining, then you need to check on your ways and rectify where you could be going wrong. For example, you might notice that a particular doctor may have reduced the number of referrals they send over. Once you take note of this, you could do a simple follow up with the doctor and undertake better procedures and methods to carry out your job.
6. Make it easy to refer to patients.
If you are looking forward to getting many physician referrals, make it less complicated for other physicians to send patients your way. Set up a website and consider having a place to have other physicians to contact you. Make your contact information public, and let your email address be easily accessible. You can also call in various doctors to remind them to send new referrals your way.
To sum up, getting a physician referral does not have to be a difficult task to handle after all. Establish a healthy relationship with other physicians and, as it will make it easy for them to refer patients to you. It may take some time to establish your brand, but by making yourself known, and building trust with patients and other physicians, you’ll be able to build your brand.