Understand Types of Referral Sources to Reach Out in the Right Way

The Doctor's Office , July 31, 2008

If you're not connecting on a personal level with your fellow physicians, you'll probably be another specialty practice waiting around for referrals.

However, to make a meaningful connection, you need to understand the different types of referring practices and tailor your outreach strategy accordingly.

Every physician should be familiar with his or her sources of referral business. This will help define the specialties and areas of practice that are driving your volume, and also identify the geographic areas where you have the most opportunity to grow new referral business.

There are three types of doctor sources your specialty practice should be familiar with before you consider a marketing strategy:

A loyal practice group that is currently sending you a large patient volume. For example, physicians from an orthopedic practice have a strong relationship with a primary care office in town that consistently sends them senior patients for physical therapy sessions.

A semi-loyal practice group currently sending you some of its patients, but also sending some patients to a competitor. For example, an internist sends some patients to your cardiology practice, but also sends some to another cardiologist group in town. This is an opportunity to share any new services or procedures with these offices and demonstrate your interest in working with them.

A nonreferring group. For example, other specialty or primary care practices do not know about your practice. Perhaps you just moved to the area. This may be an opportunity for you to become familiar with these groups and explain the services you offer.

Once you know where your referral business comes from, you can put together marketing strategies that will promote your practice and encourage other doctors to reach out to you and ask questions about the services or procedures you offer.

This article was adapted from one that originally ran in the July issue of The Doctor's Office, a HealthLeaders Media publication.

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