Three Reasons Why You Should Care about Physician Referrals
Every day I talk to dentists, practice managers, and providers, who come to me seeking advice on how to navigate the peaks and valleys of practice ownership. I advise them in many facets of their businesses, but the question that seems to hang on every business owner’s mind is “how can I attract more patients?” I try to tell them that I don’t have a secret weapon that will create patients out of thin air, but that a successful marketing plan includes the following ingredients: finding the right target, and executing a message that speaks to them at the right time and place, with consistent frequency and the ability to measure results and adjust as necessary.
But, I may have lied to them. Not on purpose, of course, for it wasn’t until very recently, that I inadvertently uncovered a common thread among my most successful clients: Physician Referrals. Every one of my top producing practices had all incorporated a method I introduced to them for generating consistent referrals from just a handful of local physician practices. So, why was it that physician referrals made the difference:
1. Physician Referrals are “qualified”
A “qualified” lead is a potential patient who has already been pre-screened, and results in lower cancellation rates, and greater treatment acceptance rates. Why? Patients (usually) listen to their Doctor. Not everyone understands the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. In fact, many people view dental care as a luxury. However, when their doctor tells them that they need to do something, most patients are likely to follow their advice. It also means they are less likely to “shop around.”
2. The cost of acquiring a new patient through physician referrals is virtually $0
The average cost of acquiring a new patient for a dental practice via traditional marketing methods is $275. When done strategically, cultivating relationships with physicians in your area can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line, with little more investment that a couple of hours a month. Although there are some great ways to use a small investment to accelerate your impact, you can have quite a bit of success in generating consistent physician referrals without spending a dime.
3. Physicians can be your best advocates (or worst critics).
What do you want physicians to say to your patients about dental care? The average primary care physician doesn’t know how important proper dental care is to the lives of their patients, and how it can lead to serious health consequences. Because a physician’s advice and counsel are so influential on his patients, it is important to know if the correct message is being relayed. Are they telling patients that is important to go to the dentist? Do they even bring it up? Who are they referring to now, if anyone? We all know that there is a need to spread the word about proper dental care, but the first step is educating those with the strongest voices. In our local communities, physicians are the front line in getting the message disseminated. Establish yourself as a resource to your local physicians by helping them to understand the impact that dental care has on a patient’s overall health, as well as the physician’s bottom line and practice.
Physician referrals can be an excellent strategy for generating consistent, qualified new blood into your practice. By arming local physicians with the information and resources they need to address their patients’ overall wellness, you create advocates in your community for your practice and dentistry, in general. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement a physician marketing strategy in your practice, keep an eye out for next week’s article that will provide step-by-step guidelines for putting physician referrals to work for you.