Although you may excel in your specialty, referrals from other physicians are not something you can take for granted.
You still have to work at being at the top of your colleagues’ referral list. While getting out and meeting with colleagues is a great way to generate referrals, you should consider these four ways to stand out as the go-to physician in your field.
- Report promptly to the referring physician. “Never allow the patient to arrive back in the referring physician’s office before your report does,” says Neil Baum, MD, in his book, Marketing Your Clinical Practice. “Nothing is more embarrassing to the primary care doctor than to be in the dark about what is going on with the patient.” Without your report, the patient’s follow-up visit with the referring physician may be a waste of time for the doctor and the patient.
- Don’t poach patients. When you see a patient on referral, be sure to send the patient back to your referring colleague. This is especially true for interspecialty referrals, where you may do a certain procedure others in your specialty don’t offer. Note in your report to the referring physician that you’ve sent the patient back to him or her.
- Be available for appointments. Making referred patients wait several weeks to see you is frustrating for both the patient and the referring physician, and increases the likelihood that that patient won’t keep the appointment with you. Figure out a way to accommodate referral appointments in your scheduling system.
- Make the referring physician look good. A patient’s experience with you reflects on the referring physician. The referring physician doesn’t want his or her patient coming back for a follow-up with complaints about you. If you receive good feedback from a patient, share that with the referring doctor so he or she can feel confident about sending patients to you. Conversely, how a patient perceives you is partly determined by how the patient perceives the referring physician. So be sure to say something positive about the other physician during the patient’s visit.