How to get more patient referrals

When I meet someone who is starting out in Private Practice, or who is in the process of getting practicing privileges at the hospital I work at, the conversation inevitably comes around to ‘how do I get more patients?’

 

We’ve all faced this same problem.
Here’s how to do it.

 

1. Be proactive about getting new referrers who can refer patients.
2. Ask your existing patients for referrals.
3. Make booking in to see you really easy for the patient.
4. Build your online presence and your brand.

 

 

1) Be proactive about getting new referrers who can refer patients.

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it, but I’m actually talking about doing this with intention – as if you were purposefully following a recipe. I’d like you to think about how many patients you’d like to see each week, and consciously start working towards that number.

If you’re new to a hospital or are starting to meet potential referrers, make a point of saying – ‘Hi’, I’m John, I’ve just started working here, and I really like looking after ‘x’ kind of patients with ‘y’ kind of problems. Let me know if any of your patients might need help, of if I can be of any help to you at all’.

You don’t even have to be ‘brand new’ in your Private Practice journey to ask colleagues.

We’re busy people, and we sometimes forget that your wonderful skills are available for our patients.

Recently, one of my favourite physio colleagues pinged me an email to say that his clinic in the city was a little quiet during holiday time, and would I mind sending him a patient or two, if they needed help in his geographical area? I was more than happy to oblige, and I reminded him about another colleague he should go ask too.

Many clinicians fear asking colleagues for referrals, because they’re afraid it will make them look needy or unsuccessful. Quite the opposite is true. It usually makes us think, ‘yes’, ‘of course I’d be happy to send the next appropriate patient I have to you’. If you’re still feeling shy, you could remind the referrer about convenience for their patients. ‘It just so happens that clinic is quiet this week because of half-term, so if you’ve got any post-op patients who need help getting going, I’ve got availability’.

 

 

2) Ask your existing patients for referrals.

Be honest with yourself. How good are you at doing this? Not very often, am I right?

Let’s make it a little bit easier.

First of all, you need to remember that if you do a great job of looking after a patient, it’s perfectly OK to ask patients to refer you.This doesn’t have to (and really shouldn’t be) in a crass or clumsy way. If your ‘British reserve’ is holding you back, the trick is to take note of when praise is being given by a patient, and then acting in that moment.

For instance, if a patient says:

‘you’ve been so fantastic, thanks ever so much for helping me to back to running’,

 

you could then say:

‘thank you, that means a great deal to me… I really enjoy helping people like yourself, so if you ever have friends or colleagues who are injured runners, do think of me, as I’d love to help them too’.

 

Think about training your staff and colleagues to say something similar- all it takes is a pre-prepared sentence or two that’s easy for them to recall, so if ever a patient says ‘I’m so glad I went to see her – she was so kind’, they know just how to reply.

Better still, use the opportunity to also ask the patient for a testimonial. See here for some advice: https://www.privatepracticeninja.co.uk/how-to-get-…

Testimonials on your website, Google, and sites such as Doctify, are the online version of word of mouth. They’re powerful.

 

3) Make booking in to see you really easy for the patient.

This is all about making the patient’s journey ridiculously easy, so they’ll be more inclined to tell other people about you.

What does this look like?

Put some effort into hand-holding the patient through the admin of getting an appointment.For instance, many of my physio colleagues will email a patient referral to me, and they’ll cc-in the patient.Even if they’ve included my secretary’s email address in their email, I’ll take just a moment or two to reply to the email saying ‘Thank you so much Nicky for kindly referring Toosie – Toosie, I very much forward to seeing you in clinic as soon as possible, and I’m going to ask Sue to kindly get in touch with you this morning, so we can get you booked into clinic (Thank you Sue)’.

If you’re slow at typing, try keeping a word document open your desktop that you can cut and paste these kinds of lines of text from.

 

Make sure the patient knows what to expect, and that they can rely on your taking care of them.

Patients sometimes get in a bit of a tizzy about who should do what after their initial appointment.

Most of us don’t have a medical administrator literally on-site, so if we need to follow up the patient after e.g. an investigation, they patient needs to feel they can trust in the process afterwards.

This is where I’m going to point out something that you’ve probably already noticed about patients, which is, you can tell them something, you can even send them a written something, but often they’ll forget what that something was.

 

In other words, given that we know this about patients, we should get off our high horses about ‘patients needing to take responsibility for their appointment making’ and instead, safety net this process.

For me, that means taking two minutes to walk the patient to the MRI desk to get them booked in, and then emailing the patient and my secretary (together), and saying ‘Hello Sue, Toosie is going to have her MRI this afternoon, please can you kindly arrange a face-to-face follow up appointment for her please?’

Why do I use the term ‘face-to-face’? This is about setting expectations. Even though during the consultation, I’ll have said ‘we’ll be meeting again in person, to go through your images, and the next steps about planning your treatment’ etc., there’s a remarkable number of patients who still think that I’ll be casually dropping them an email or phone call to natter with them about their results.

Patients are happy when they know what’s happening next, and that they’re not going to get lost in the system. At least once a week a patient will say to me ‘thanks for being so efficient – and your lovely secretary has been so helpful’. Crazily, this matters just as much to patients as their clinical care, so don’t lose out on your next best fan by failing to take care of the details.

 

4) Build your online presence and your brand.

Hopefully, you’ll be well aware that as clinicians, we need to be highly visible online.This is by far and away the fastest way to grow a successful Private Practice?

Why?

According to Google’s ‘zero moment of truth’, 70% of people make up their minds about us, before they even get in touch with us.

That means, every day, patients are reading about us online – what we do and how we might help them. If we’re not out there in the digital space, we’re seriously missing out.

 

What does it take to have a strong online presence?

It means having a professionally made website, it means adding SEO-friendly content regularly to that site (so patients can find us when then ‘Google’ their problem), and it means sharing that content on social media, and engaging with our readers on social.

I’ll be talking about brands, and what this means for you as a clinician soon (so watch this space)

  

Need help with attracting more patients to your Private Practice?

Get in touch – I’m at css@privatepracticeninja.co.uk

Now it’s time for you to grow your Private Practice.


 


 

 

 

                                                                               

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