The Importance of A Referring Physician

by Annie Mathies

It is often forgotten how important a referring physician really is to a practice. Referring physicians keep specialists in business. It is not just private practice physicians that need to focus on building and maintaining these relationships, physicians employed by hospitals also need to focus on this issue.

You often hear physicians say “I don’t need to worry about referring physicians” or “I have been getting patients from these physicians for X number of years”. The physicians forget that things happen and referrers may change their referral patterns. Some situations that could change or influence a physician’s referral pattern are:

•The referring physician may become employed by a hospital or merge with another group; when this happens the referring physician may be forced to change where they send their patients.
•The referring physician or his staff may have issues/concerns with the specialist’s staff. (i.e. – problems getting the front desk to answer the phone or relay messages, a rude staff, or a staff that will not accommodate new patients).
•A new physician came to the area and is building relationships/networking/using new techniques.
•A history of poor communication with the referring physician about patients care.

Specialists need to be thinking – How do I keep these physicians happy and keep the business coming? In doing so they should focus on:

•Making sure the referring physician has a seamless way to interact with the physician office.

•Always communicating what is going on with their patient to the referring physician or their office. It could be a phone call, letter, email, etc. AND, make sure to thank the physician for the referral.

•If the specialist is using a new technique or service, it needs to be marketed directly to the referring physicians:

*Put the information on your website, blog, Facebook page.

*Hold a reception for the local physicians to keep them informed. It could be a simple as a wine and cheese event.

*Send out a mass mailing/email. If you are reaching out to new referring physicians in this letter, make sure to introduce the services that separate you from the competition.

*Notify the PR department in hospitals where you work.

•Have a secret shopper call your staff and make sure that they are handling a referring physician in the appropriate manner.

It just takes a few extra steps to keep a referring physician happy and sending patients. It is well worth the effort.



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