Getting the most from your networking

Did you know that 43% of patient referrals are made to providers a referring physician doesn’t know well? What’s more, 17% are made to providers the referring physician has never met.

Of course, choosing a specialist for a patient is not based solely on relationships, the patient’s location, insurance, cost, and other factors will play a crucial role. But sending a patient to someone you don’t know much about involves some level of risk.

What if they are not happy with the specialist they are sent to?

Building a strong referral network not only makes it easier to gain referrals, it is in the best interests of the patient as well.

When referring physicians have the information they need about you and your practice they can refer to you with confidence that their patients are in good hands.

There are countless ways to build your physician referral network. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Reach out on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an ideal platform for building a professional network with other physicians in your area and for learning more about those you’d like to build stronger relationships with.
  2. Keep in touch with old contacts. Keep up with people you met in med school or elsewhere along your career path.
  3. Comment on other physicians’ blog articles. Get a feel for what other physicians are working on and perhaps find an opportunity to give a helpful comment. Even saying “Nice article” will show you went out of your way to learn about them.
  4. Like their practice on Facebook. Even if social media isn’t your scene, it’s become an effective business networking option. On the plus side, it only takes a minute to click that little thumbs up.
  5. Call people. Whether it’s a new practice in your area or a long time physician you want to get to know better, calling on the phone is a rarity these days and will definitely stick out in people’s minds.
  6. Go out to lunch. You’ve got to eat, and so does everyone else. Planning a day each week to dine with your fellow physicians is a great opportunity to get to know one another better and unwind with folks who understand the ins and outs of what you do.
  7. Make yourself available to them when they need you. Building and maintaining a relationship means being there when the other party needs you. When another physician has questions about your referral process, be sure your team makes them a priority.
  8. Follow up. When another physician contacts you, whether it’s a question about a patient record, or an invitation to a BBQ, following up shows appreciation for them reaching out to you.
  9. Email them. When you don’t have time for a phone call or a face to face, email is an effective method of communicating and in the end, communication in any form is what counts.
  10. Attend events and conferences. Attending medical events will give you the opportunity to learn and to mingle with a ton of people in fields related to your own.
  11. Ask for feedback. Physicians currently in your network are the best source for feedback on how you can improve your practice in the eyes of potential referrers. Maybe your referral process is time-consuming or your front desk staff was a joy to talk to. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
  12. Join an online group or forum. Not only will you make new contacts, you will have a valuable pool of physicians to offer you support and learn things from.
  13. Teach what you know. By mentoring others or simply sharing your knowledge with other medical professionals you can help people avoid mistakes while building strong relationships.

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