If you are concerned about a stagnant pool of patients, you may be searching for the magic formula to attract new customers and grow your practice. Of course, it’s not really magic - physicians with many referrals are experts in creating a positive patient experience that gets people talking. Here’s how they do it.
Provide excellent, personalized service that goes beyond what’s expected.
Word-of-mouth referrals come from patients who feel known and valued from the waiting room to the exam room, and beyond. These patients are excited to share their exceptional experience at your practice with their friends and family and expect nothing in return. Win your patients over by delivering more than what they expected, and referrals will almost certainly begin calling to request appointments.
Design a welcoming waiting room and comfortable exam rooms.
Instead of lining chairs along the wall, set up your space with more of a coffeehouse-like feel. Add some lamps for soft light and provide wireless internet along with newspapers and magazines. If it’s possible, install a glass pane in the door between the waiting area and exam area. All of the coming and going will reassure patients that the doctors are moving quickly to keep their wait time short.
Keep patients happy with minimal wait times.
No matter how comfortable the waiting area, no one wants to sit around for hours at the doctor’s office. Implement powerful scheduling tools to keep your appointments on track. Improving the efficiency of your medical practice will translate to happier patients who refer their friends and family.
Return calls promptly.
Your patients know how busy you are. So, when you return their phone call promptly, this sends a powerful message that you are invested in your patients’ health and happiness. Your satisfied customers will sing your praises at every opportunity.
Be active on social media.
Social media is an important word-of-mouth tool in itself, but it’s easy for your message to get lost in the onslaught of information. Get noticed by asking your patients to follow you on your social media channels, post reviews of your practice online, and “check in” to your office with their social profiles. Take the time to post interesting, original content that will get shared by your followers to attract new patients.
Be involved in your community.
Sponsor a local organization or, even better, make a regular date to volunteer your time. Share information about your philanthropy in your office. This will give your patients something fantastic to mention the next time someone asks them for a doctor recommendation.
Get in the referral game.
Start by developing relationships with other (noncompeting) physicians. Word-of-mouth referrals come from other physicians as often as they do from friends and family. Attend industry conferences and network with other physicians in order to build your referral base. When it comes to patient referrals, just ask. As each patient checks out or schedules another appointment, ask them, “How was your visit today?” If they have positive feedback, encourage them to take a business card and refer others to your practice.
Streamline your billing process.Consider reorganizing or outsourcing your billing process to take some of the burden of billing off your staff, redirecting their energy towards providing the best possible service to your patients. Ensure that your billing is handled by experts, either in-house or not, minimizes billing errors, allowing your patience to focus on the fantastic care they are receiving rather than on insurance hassles.
If you are committed to growing your practice, consistency is key! Focus on the methods above, respond to patient feedback, and watch your referrals skyrocket.