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Leveraging Technology to Optimize Referrals

By: Nicholas Eberenz and Robin Ntoh | August 1st, 2018

Leveraging Technology to Optimize Referrals Blog Feature

Staying afloat in these changing times requires specialty practices to ramp up their marketing efforts. A relatively straightforward step is to look at how patients are referred to an organization and use that information to guide marketing interventions. Taking a data-driven approach allows an organization to effectively and efficiently pull more patients into the practice and better retain current customers.

Choosing the right path

Robust and reliable marketing technology can enable a clearer understanding of referrals. Well-designed tools require little-to-no setup, relying instead on the referral information registration and clinical staff enter into the patient record. Provided a practice is diligent about entering this information—and electronic medical records can be designed to require staff to enter it—marketing technology can generate rich and insightful reports to guide marketing activities.

For example, a practice can run a report that shows the top referring physicians and how much revenue is tied to those referrals. Armed with this list, a practice can reach out to the physicians and make sure they have all the information they need to confidently continue recommending patients. Such information may include referral cards that list the practice’s contact information, direct phone numbers for dedicated schedulers, leave-behind pieces about specific procedures and so on. This direct communication can further solidify the relationship and establish the practice as a true partner in extending the patient experience. The goal is to communicate that the practice can provide a seamless transition for the referring physician’s patient, delivering an equivalent level of care.

Not only can the technology reveal which physicians are referring patients, but it can also see how other referral sources are performing. Perhaps the practice ran an ad in a local magazine or hosted a community outreach and awareness event. A sound marketing tool can show exactly how many patients came to the organization as a result of these initiatives. When costs are entered into the system, the practice can gain an appreciation of each effort’s ROI, allowing the practice to accurately determine the cost-per-patient-lead and whether a marketing outreach campaign is worth the outlay.   

Examining appointments versus procedures

Practices can not only review how many patients make appointments based on referrals, but how many choose to have a procedure at the practice. This is called the conversion rate and may highlight different patterns and trends. For instance, a practice may discover that most of its breast augmentation appointments come from the web, but those individuals referred by a certain outside surgeon are more likely to have the procedure. This can prompt the practice to take two steps. One is to work on converting web-driven appointments to scheduled procedures, and the other is to reach out to the referring surgeon to further strengthen the relationship.  

Seizing the day

There are a lot of opportunities to grow a practice just by understanding how patients currently learn about and choose to come to a facility. Taking advantage of these opportunities can ensure an organization lays the groundwork for solid growth.