If you are a medical practitioner, your goal is to make your practice grow, and growth means attracting new patients and retaining existing ones. Marketing and advertising tactics may prove time-consuming and expensive.
Enter patient referrals. While you can use popular and effective marketing strategies, a significant part of attracting new patients includes getting them through referrals. Getting patient referrals from existing patients is one of the most successful medical practice promotion activities that you can put in place. This is primarily because new patients referred by existing patients are more likely to be happy and compliant than patients who find you on their own. Patient referrals are a much easier (and cost-effective) way to gain new patients rather than finding new patients through traditional or digital marketing strategies.
If you have not noticed, there are heaps of information available online on how to get more referrals from patients and grow your practice. While there is no harm in implementing the latest tools or fancy marketing tactics, they may not provide you with a strategy to gain patient referrals. They are not cheap, either. You may end up spending a lot of money and still not get anything implemented.
Regardless of the size of your medical practice, focusing on patient referrals will help you grow your practice without coming across forceful or sleazy.
Why are patient referrals more important now than ever before?
Over the past two decades, patients have dramatically changed the way they search for and purchase healthcare services. According to a survey, one in three American adults regularly search online for a medical condition. In addition, rising co-pays are causing patients to look for the best value. They are looking for healthcare providers on various websites, checking out online reviews and asking their friends and family before scheduling an appointment.
Potential patients now expect interactivity from physicians before committing to treatment. Healthcare providers who provide personal interactivity will earn the trust and confidence of key influencers.
How are traditional referrals different from patient referrals?
Healthcare providers are no longer the gatekeepers of medical referrals that they once were. Traditional marketing strategies used to leave physicians with little control once their work was complete. Patients received treatment and shared their experience with the world. If the patient chose to share a positive experience with others, the practice would benefit from a positive word-of-mouth. However, if the patient decided not to share his or her positive experience with others, the marketing opportunity would fizzle.
However, today, healthcare providers have more control over word-of-mouth marketing. The key to building a successful medical practice through word-of-mouth is to combine social networks with word-of-mouth marketing. Patients are more vocal now about their experiences because social networks motivate them to speak their minds. In the past, patients shared their experience with less than a dozen friends. Now, they can post their reviews online and reach thousands of potential patients.
Can you use word-of-mouth patient referrals to your advantage?
As a physician wanting to market his or her practice, your primary goal must be to encourage your existing patients to act as ambassadors for your practice. This is similar to encouraging your patients to share their feedback the old-fashioned way, but it has a deeper impact. If you can get just a few patients to leverage social media for word-of-mouth marketing, you can reach massive numbers of potential patients.
The best way to encourage happy patients to share positive experiences is to provide them with as many opportunities as possible. Establish a strong online presence and use as many different platforms as possible. If you feel a particular social network or platform is not a good fit considering your target audience, find innovative ways to get involved. You can use websites such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to establish a strong online presence. These websites will help drive traffic to your practice website and get potential patients to talk about your practice.
How can we help?
The world of medical marketing is constantly evolving, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what the future looks like. Tried-and-tested methods of traditional marketing may not produce the same results, but that does not mean we can ignore them completely. Word-of-mouth referrals are just as valuable today as they were a decade ago. However, today word-of-mouth referrals are being used in a way that can spread information faster. You can use them to generate new patients for your practice and build a thriving practice in this age of medical marketing.
There are a lot of practical and proven marketing strategies that you can use to grow your practice, but keeping your patients happy and satisfied needs to be at the very top of your list.
Most physicians do not realize the impact they can have by keeping regular contact with previous patients. It is the most strategic step you can take to increase the number and improve the quality of your patient referrals.
If the patient referral is a strategy you would like to explore, check out our eBook on What Every Healthcare Practice Should Know About Gaining and Retaining Referrals. In this eBook, we have shared best tips on how to use patient referrals to grow your medical practice. The eBook contains practical ideas and tips you can implement even with a busy schedule.
Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that getting referrals is easier and quicker when you are good at your job. However, it never hurts to be more proactive. So, if you are looking to grow your medical practice and gain more patient referrals, contact us. We can help!
For a free healthcare marketing consultation to make sure your practice is taking the right steps to attract more referrals, contact us today.