Is It Worth It to Implement a Patient Referral Program to Expand Your Practice?
Every medical practice needs to establish a way to attract new patients in order to grow. The truth is that practices lose patients every year for a variety of reasons out of their control. As much as ten percent of a practices patient base will be lost annually due to regular attrition. Change of job and moving are two of the most common external reasons. Implementing a patient referral program is often thought of as a cost-effective marketing technique to attract new patients. A practice may be able to get as much as fifty percent of its new patients through referrals.
But is it right for your practice? In general, yes, if done correctly. Your patients are the best potential ambassadors of your practice who can relay to their family and friends about the high level of service you provide. Unlike social media or traditional mass advertising, you’re not trying to get the word out to people who are likely uninterested. The success rate of a patient referral program can be significantly higher than other advertising routes at much lower costs.
Where Do Patient Referral Programs Go Wrong and What Can Be Done to Change That?
Yes, the potential is there for a robust patient referral program that drives new traffic to your practice. But, if done incorrectly, the results may flat line very quickly. So where do patient referral programs go wrong?
The Practice Is Not Living Up to Current Patients Expectations
Theoretically, a patient referral program works because the patient is invested in the health of the person they’re referring to the practice. Therefore, the practice needs to be worthy of the referral. Long patient wait times, billing errors, and poor care are all problems that can deter existing patients of wanting to recommend a practice to a family member or friend in need of care. Our award-winning medical EHR software and other optimal work flow products ensure a practice can effectively provide the level of care and support needed to create the best overall experience for patients.
The Staff Is Not Trained or Invested in the Program
In general, it won’t be the doctor who will be speaking with patients about the referral program. It may be the receptionist, a nurse, or another staff member. Patients often build a rapport with staff members, and they are the ones who will best be able to discuss the program with the patient. However, if staff doesn’t understand the program or isn’t interested in it, the program is not going to generate many referrals. Time will need to be spent to train staff members on the program and why its needed for the practice. Also, keep in mind that there should be one person in charge of referrals. This will create accountability and ensure the program isn’t an afterthought.
Too Much Time Is Spent on the Perks of the Program
Gifts and incentives are a bit tricky for patient referral programs. Many states outlaw practices ability to offer existing patients gift cards or discounted services to help them find patients. Practices can offer gifts or discounts to new patients, but these incentives should not be the sole selling point for the patient referral program. Instead, a practice should make an effort to deliver the best possible care and provide a quality experience, so patients will want to bring their family and friends there.
Medical practice management software and other automated solutions from MediPro, Inc. are a viable way to enhance patient care and practice efficiency. In addition to that, making patients aware of the program through signage and business cards and targeting patients with personalized pitches are much more beneficial to the success of the program.