Why word of mouth and referrals are not enough

Broadening your patient base requires a more comprehensive and systematic approach than simply relying on word of mouth and referrals.

First, referrals and word of mouth are important. However, even with these tactics, we find that healthcare professionals can be more proactive and effective.

For instance, we find that relying on word of mouth puts healthcare professionals in the vulnerable position on having to depend on happenstance and the good will of busy strangers to think of you first with everything else they have going on.

Similarly, many healthcare professionals are not proactive enough when it comes to generating referrals. What is needed is a systematic approach to identify every high-potential referral source — and then nurture your relationships with these colleagues through educational messages that compel them to think of you first when a need arises.That’s why we detail a system to ensure that you leave “no stone uncovered” when you think about referral sources and how to strengthen relationships with them.

At the same time, broadening your patient base and growing your practice requires more than word of mouth and referrals. Marketing your healthcare practice starts with a strong strategic foundation. You have to make savvy decisions about your goals and vision for your practice, service mix, patient and insurer mix, how you will differentiate your services, your marketing message, and much more.

Then you get visible in your marketplace. There are a variety of low-cost, high-impact, tasteful ways to do this. Being more proactive and systematic in generating referrals, as noted above, is one way, and there are many more.

It is also important to evaluate the patient’s experience of your practice. There are dozens of “touch points” that you must consider to be sure that you provide a consistent, quality experience.

Other marketing topics include: your retail presence, your service model, relationships with local health systems, relations with insurers, and knowing how to work with the right vendors. Finally, it is essential to create a marketing plan and stick to it.

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