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Clinical Solutions Blog

How to win back doctors who stop referring

Posted by Rick Lau on Jul 29, 2015 8:00:00 AM

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Over the past months you may have been getting new patient referrals from a couple of doctors. But an interesting thing that nobody seems to pay attention to is keeping those relationships active and also finding new doctors to work with. You see, until those referrals stop coming in, many clinic owners simply aren’t paying enough attention to it.

Yes, you’ll notice it once it happens because your patient numbers will slowly decline. But instead of waiting, why not put a strategy in place that is going to keep those referrals coming in forever more? Or how to winback doctors who stop referring to your clinic?

The strategy I want to share with you today works equally well for winning back doctors who stop referring to your clinic, as it does for finding brand new doctors to work with.

What Is Your Most Desperate Problem?

Let’s talk about your number one concern as a clinic owner or therapist. It’s getting new patients coming in your door, right?  But competition for new patients is higher than ever, so you have to be smart, and working with more doctors can be an effective way to go about it.

 
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Problem is that majority of clinic owners think it’s just a plain waste of time. Trust me, I’ve talked to a lot of people and they often say they are fed up with trying to work with doctors.  Every time they put the effort in, it seems wasted because most of the doctors don’t refer anyway. So why bother?

The Reason Why You Need To Get In Front Of Doctors

The reason why you need to bother is because approximately 30% of all visits to family physicians are related to musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints, 30%!!

Now I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a very high number.

Let’s just do a bit of math on that and see what a high return on investment you can get if you go about it the right way.

If the average doctor sees 30 patients per day and works 4 days a week, that's 120 patients in a week.  If 30% of their patients are MSK related, that's 36 potential MSK patients per week from ONE DOCTOR.  

These could potentially be 36 new patients coming into your clinic every week.

And here’s the thing.

Doctors can do very little about MSK related conditions. As physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists, we know that what these patients really need is treatment. And we are doing these patients a great disservice by not getting them coming through our doors.

Why?

Because many of them will simply be given an anti-inflammatory or pain killer and left suffering with their problem for weeks, months, or sometimes even years.

The thing is that patients themselves don’t know what they need, and doctors are often uneducated that there are effective solutions for MSK related conditions. That means it’s up to us as clinic owners to sell our services and educate doctors about how we can help them and their patients.

So let’s talk about how we can do that. 

A 5-Step Process For Getting More Doctor Referrals 

Recently I wrote about 5 marketing tactics that can help increase new patients, and instead of just using them as overall marketing tactics, we can use the same principles to design a strategy to get more doctor referrals.

1. Desperate Problem  

What keeps doctors awake at night? 

I bet it’s the fact that they are overworked and they are concerned about their reputation and lawsuits. Doctors are faced with an overwhelming number of patients these days and they need help in offering effective solutions to them.  They want to work with trusted providers who make it easy for them. They also want to work with people they like. 

As I mentioned before, 30% of these patients are MSK patients, so you can be directly helping take care of the doctors’ workload by offering to take care of these patients for them.

2. Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Why should a doctor refer patients to your clinic and not your competitor? 

What makes you and your clinic stand out above the rest?

Think about some of the things that might stand out as appealing to the doctors you want to work with. 

Here are a few ideas how to put a great USP together:

  1. Unique product/service offering - “The only physiotherapist in town that offers_____” OR  “We are the specialist Back Pain Clinic”
  2. Convenience - “One stop pain relief clinic!”  OR “Open seven days a week”
  3. Exclusivity - “_____ exclusive only to our clinic”
  1. Trust - “In business for 23 years, with a combined staff experience of 210 years” OR  “Physio to the Bulldogs hockey team”

3. Overwhelming Proof 

Next you need to provide some real evidence that you have highly satisfied patients. Share some of your patient success stories, just a short paragraph or 2 about your results. Share a testimonial with some of the great things people say about your clinic and services. Or create a simple tagline that demonstrates the benefits for patients. 

A tagline example I used in my previous post was:

‘Our clinic can get a post-surgery patient back into their pre-surgery routine in just eight sessions’ 

Or create a paragraph case study such as this:

‘Jo came in with severe debilitating back pain, it was so bad that her partner had to dress her every morning and when discussing her condition on the first visit, she was brought to tears in emotional distress. Within 4 weeks Jo was dressing herself again and her pain had significantly decreases. Within 12 weeks her life was back to normal and she now lives a pain free active life again’

Or you can use a strong patient testimonial such as:

“I came to Active Physio Clinic after my husband’s work friend had recommended them. I had suffered neck pain and problems with pain in the right side of my face for over 3 years.

They immediately diagnosed my pain as being linked to muscle tension and I had very quick relief. After about 3 treatments I felt like I had a new back. My back and neck are no longer tense, I have more freedom of movement and no more face pain”

See how these things help to demonstrate the powerful effects that your clinic services can provide to patients?

Ask your patients for testimonials, use their cases as demonstrations of effect, or create a tagline that demonstrates the proof of your results.

4. Irresistible Offers

A great way to get doctors to refer is to offer them an incentive they can pass onto their patients. The reason an incentive works well is because it’s a no-brainer decision for the doctor and requires very little effort on their part. 

The thing is that you have to make the process easier for doctors to make those referrals and keep patients happy at the same time. 

Here are a few things you can do.

  • Offer a free consultation – make up a voucher or brochure that doctors can hand to their patients for a free consultation.
  • Give them a box of ice packs that have a waterproof sticker with your OFFER and phone number.  Then the doctors can give out ice packs to their patients.   

5. Reason to Act Now 

On all your brochures, waterproof stickers, handouts, and business cards, make sure you include an immediate call to action such as:

  • ‘Get your free consultation’
  • ‘Get your free pre assessment’
  • "Free backfit workshop" 

Build Doctor/ Practitioner Relationships

The key to getting and keeping those referrals coming in is to continue to build a trusted relationship with the doctors that are referring. If you focus on building a strong communication channel it keeps you at the front of their minds and ensures that you are exceeding their expectations. This highlights your professionalism and emphasizes why the doctor should keep referring patients your way.

A great way to do that is by engaging with them about patient success and feedback.

From time to time, drop into the family practice or sit down over a cup of coffee for a professional meet up. Or if time is an issue simply pick up the phone for a quick discussion.

Firstly, thank them for sending you referrals and give them a short report on a few of the patients you have been seeing.

And here are a few questions you should ask your referral doctor to get feedback from them:

  • How did the patient respond and what was their feedback?
  • Did the patient complain? 
  • What do you want from me, is there anymore I can do to help make things easier for you and your patients? 
  • If they have stopped sending referrals, ask them ‘why did I used to get 12 referrals, and now it seems like none’, what can I do differently? What can I do to regain your trust again?  

In the end this is not a passive process where you simply send the doctor a brochure and then expect referrals. You need to think about your doctor referral system and build it into your marketing plan. 

You have to be engaged in an active process that both educates and encourages ongoing referrals. And by paying ongoing attention to the process you can definitely expect a more responsive outcome.

I hope you’re able to use these techniques to take your clinic to the next level. If you liked this post and want to hear more about the proven strategies we use here at Clinic Supplies Canada, go ahead and subscribe to our Clinic Accelerator Blog. Don’t worry: we hate spam just as much as you do. Nothing but useful, interesting information that we know you’re going to love.

 

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How to Win Back Doctors Who Stop Referring

 

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