Referrals are an important source of highly qualified leads for any small business as we previously discussed in another blog post. For allied health professionals like massage therapists, optometrist, hearing clinics, chiropractors, and physiotherapists, getting referrals from medical practices is an important (but often overlooked) method of getting great leads for your business. We call these type of referrals “doctor’s referrals” but they could also be joint marketing opportunities for your healthcare business and the doctor’s office. It can definitely be intimidating to show up at a doctor’s office and talk to these busy professionals but here are 6 important reasons why you want to network with doctors.
1. Highly qualified leads come from doctor referrals
If the doctor is a solo practitioner, hundreds of patients are seen by them every month. Many of these people will have medically related questions or problems that the doctor will refer to a specialist or to another health professional. For example, a person complaining of ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, will often seek a doctor’s medical opinion if they aren’t aware that an audiologist is the best medical professional to contact. If a hearing clinic has a referral pad at the doctor’s office, it is easy for the doctor to fill out the pad and hand the patient the hearing clinic’s contact information. This patient has been fully qualified by the doctor and 9 times out of 10 since their doctor gave them the referral, the patient will call the clinic to book an appointment, or the doctor’s office may even book the appointment for the patient.
2. Decreasing the workload on the medical system
As in the example above, many patients are still unsure of which health professional can give them the best care. Many patients have the misconception that going to certain health professionals actually require a doctor’s referral when in fact they can “self-refer” and book an appointment with the audiologist, chiropractor, or physiotherapist directly. Often patients will start by making an appointment with GP who then tells them to go see someone else. By networking with GPs, you help to decrease the amount of workload on the medical system and also educate patients on other medical options to help address their concerns.
3. Updating the doctor’s knowledge base
Just like any other professional, doctors need to keep on top of the latest medical information and treatments available. Again, going back to the hearing aid example, hearing aid technology has changed significantly over the past 15 years yet the amount of information provided in medical school about hearing aid technology is minimal. Techniques for managing tinnitus has also changed a lot over the past few years but this is a poorly understood topic by medical professionals and the general public. By working with the doctor and their office, you can help them learn the latest breakthroughs and how to help their patients lead better lives. It’s a win-win for both of you.
4. Marketing Your Business in the Doctor’s Office
By networking with your doctor’s office, you can determine what kind of joint marketing opportunities are available for you. Doctors often have patients in their waiting room who are looking to pass the time. The majority of doctor’s offices provide some sort of reading material or they might have a rack of pamphlets and handouts for local businesses that have networked with them. Some doctor’s offices even have TV screens that advertise local like-minded businesses. Others even have kiosks so that you can test your hearing. If the doctor’s office is willing to refer patients to you, they will likely also allow you to put some flyers or pamphlets in their waiting room as well.
5. Building Your Local Network of Professionals
More healthcare providers and doctor’s offices are moving into a model where there is a holistic health approach. All types of medical services are provided in one office such as a medical doctor, massage therapist, psychologist, physiotherapy, and pharmacy. Some newer medical offices may be able to accommodate this holistic approach but the older doctor’s office may not due to lack of space. By networking with your local doctor’s office, they can build up their local network of professionals to give their patients and your patients, a similar approach.
6. Minimal Costs Associated with Doctor’s Referrals
Networking is a low-cost method of increasing your client base since referrals. Most of the costs are associated with time to build up a relationship with the doctors and also to create printed material for marketing your healthcare practice. Although it is low-cost, networking usually yields a high return on investment for the time and money spent.
Doctor’s referrals are an important part of growing a healthcare practice. Although they may be difficult to obtain, it’s important that a relationship is built up with the doctor’s office. Like any good relationship, you’ll need to start off slow before you can see a return on your investment in terms of the time and effort you put in. What do you think are the top reasons to engage your local medical practice? Feel free to add your own reasons in the comments below.