Building a Referral Base for Your New Medical Practice

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When you’re just starting a new medical practice, there’s so much you’ll need to consider. There’s the furniture, and setting up the right flow between waiting rooms, labs and exam rooms. There’s finding the right staff and establishing the kind of work habits that make everything run smoothly. There’s the admin tasks, accounting and scheduling. And oh, so much more.

But, you don’t have a practice, organized or not, without any patients. Here’s a quick look at how to start building a referral base, even when you’re unsure where to start.

We Know This One… It’s All About Who You Know

Okay, this one is the most obvious, yet the most challenging. We all know that the best leads come from people we know, no matter what business we’re in. However, when you’re new in town, or just new to owning a practice, it can be hard to lean on the old industry standby.

As a starting point, reach out and maintain connections with people from your residency, medical school, or those you worked with prior to starting your own practice. If other doctors in your network trust you, they’ll send patients your way, especially if your practice offers specialty care.

We talked with Sumul Gandhi, a Mohs surgeon at Quincy Medical Group in Illinois. Gandhi is just started his own practice in a small town, but has had the benefit of opting to open his own office as part of the larger medical group. “The biggest way in which we built up our practice has been through word of mouth. Ultimately that connected me to why I chose the position in Quincy.  I wanted to interact and be a part of the community as opposed to simply a hired hand to make money for an organization. Our patients in Quincy have been extremely kind to us in that regard and the building of our practice,” he says.

As for Mohs surgery itself, Gandhi mentions he mostly got referrals from providers within the group as well as referrals from his dermatology partner, but as time goes on, more and more patients are trickling in after being referred by other patients.

Make Sure Your Practice is Easy to Work With

We’ve all tried to schedule a consultation, routine checkup or specialized service only to become frustrated with long wait times and inefficiency. Make things easier for prospective patients by clearly listing what insurance providers you work with, as well as being mindful of details like promptly scheduling appointments when a patient is directed your way.

Treat your practice like any other business. The more seamless the experience is for the patient, the more likely they are to write a positive review or recommend their services to a friend or relative.

If your care is available through multiple health care providers, make sure your profile on their webpages is up to date and easy to read.

Leverage Marketing Tools Available

Gandhi had the benefit of being able to use Quincy Medical Group’s reputation and existing customer base as a way to build referrals. QMG was able to spread the word they’d be adding a Mohs surgeon to their existing lineup of doctors, a resource they did not previously have, and were enthusiastic about getting Gandhi on board.

“To a great extent, being near a neighboring hospital and medical center in the center of town helped, but the most important thing was QMG spreading word about two new dermatologists- my partner and myself- coming to town,” says Gandhi. “Our first week in orientation was spent shooting commercials for local television, which we would awkwardly have to watch when watching NBC.  The group also put out half page ads in The Whig, Quincy’s major newspaper.”

If you’ve got the mixed blessing of owning a completely independent practice, be sure you go to networking events and get to know other doctors. The more you interact with the community, the greater your network will grow. Additionally, taking an ad out to promote your new business is not a bad idea either, and neither is opening a social media account or two to engage with the digital community.

Make Sure Your Branding is Consistent

Okay, so you’re a heart specialist or a dermatologist, you’re not selling the latest gadgets or fashions, but branding and aesthetics matter in just about every industry across the board. While you don’t need to do a whole lot of say, content marketing or tweeting, you do want to make sure all photos of your business posted online look professional, and that you use a uniform logo on all brochures, pamphlets, websites, or any other collateral you’re using to promote your business. Consistency is key, and you’ll want to make sure remember your look and tone.

We hope this helps give you an idea of where to start. We understand starting a practice is a really unique beast to tackle, and comes with its own set of challenges. Our recommendation is to start slow, and keep things consistent. Network on a regular basis so you get to know people, spread the word, and reach out to colleagues old and new. Stick to it, and your schedule will start to fill up fast.

Please refer to other articles related to this topic.

Starting a Dermatology Practice: Interview with Dr. Sumul Gandhi, MD, MBA, MPH

Building a Referral Base for Your New Medical Practice

How to Choose the Right Staff for Your Medical Practice

From Dimensions to Design, Getting the Your Medical Office Space Right

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