Health Professional Referrals
When working in healthcare, referrals can be your biggest source of new business. This is especially true of niche and specialty professionals. If you build and maintain a network of physicians, therapists, dentists, and others, you’ll find a steady stream of referrals. But the key is how to build that network.
A successful referral building campaign requires face to face interactions. You need to stand out from your competitors, or doctors will simply refer patients to the biggest and best known provider. To really make an impression, you can’t rely on simply sending an email or letter asking to refer patients to each other. Make an appointment, take them out to lunch, and get to know them.
When you meet with these people, explain what makes your business better than your competitors. Do you specialize in a specific technique or disease? What type of accreditation or certificate does your business have that are uncommon? How would referring patients to you benefit them? You have to make a great impression so they will be willing to refer their patients.
A great relationship isn’t built in a day, so you’ll need to visit potential referral sources multiple times. This can take a long time, so first prioritize which people showed the most interest in your business. Every few weeks, stop by with some brochures, gifts, or something relevant like a flyer for a walk to raise awareness about a disease. Get to know the staff, become a familiar face in the office, and try to visit at non-busy times. Every time you leave, everybody in the office should think highly of you. As they get to know you, you’ll start to see more and more referrals overtime.
Once you have a solid relationship, you can dial back a little and focus on other offices. Never stop visiting though. Your competitors are trying to steal away your referral sources for themselves, so keep a relationship over time. Send gift baskets, stop by to refresh their brochures and referral pads, and be a part of their lives.
Show off your expertise to potential and current patients through a great blog on your site. The age of the uneducated patient is over and everybody will do research to better understand whatever you are seeing them for. Instead of having them find it themselves, do the work and provide the content on your site. This is great for them to feel more connected to you, but also prevents them from visiting a competitor’s site.
That means your content needs to be what your patients want to see. If you’re looking for a spot to start, write posts about questions you frequently get from patients, and describe your different healthcare philosophies. If you specialize on a specific approach or treatment, going in depth about it can be extremely useful to readers looking for that specialty. Teach people about how to be healthy, not just about illnesses, and they’ll feel like you actually care about their health.
Protecting Your Patients' Privacy
A major concern you need to have, especially when it comes to social media, is protecting your patients’ rights and privacy. All of your workers need to be familiar with HIPAA and know what they can and can’t post about on their personal profiles. This can include an employee writing a post and complaining about a mean patient, or a doctor posting a picture congratulating a patient for beating cancer.
To cover yourself, avoid giving specifics of patients in your marketing materials. Change names, blur faces in photos, and avoid giving details that could identify a specific person. If you do want to talk about someone in marketing, you have to secure a legal release from them. That includes using a photo in a flyer, creating a case study, or publishing a patient’s review on your site.
The Power of Reviews
Health care businesses are under the highest levels of scrutiny from patients, because mistakes can have long term and life altering consequences. Having positive reviews across multiple sites help comfort potential patients that you are the right choice. Software Advice, a tech consulting firm, found that often, reviews are a deciding factor between competitors and you, so you need to have some.
The easiest way to get reviews is to ask pleased patients personally. It might be tempting to just send an email or letter, but the most effective way is to ask face to face. From there, give them a reminder card, or give them the power to do one right there. If you have a spare iPad or laptop in the office, let them use it to leave a review of your business.
Do you run a healthcare business? Got any tips for effective marketing? What have you tried out that didn’t work? Let me know in the comments below.
Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and marketer who focuses on staying on the cutting edge of technology and marketing. He also writes about small businesses, leadership, and occasionally geeks out. You can read more of his writing by following him on Twitter:@allen24ben.
IMAGE CREDIT: UNSPLASH